2x2 Channel to Face License Hearing

For MTAn advertisement showing the South Park gang leading a revolutionary mob below an appeal to "Defend 2x2."
The Federal Broadcasting Competition Commission is to offer recommendations Wednesday on whether the 2x2 cartoon channel will have its license renewed next month, with the possibility that the government could set up a youth channel in its place if its application is denied.

The license for the channel, which is locked in a legal battle over content that prosecutors have said is harmful for children, expires in mid-October.

The commission will make its recommendations to the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, a spokesman for the service, Yevgeny Strelchik, said Tuesday.

"We have an order from prosecutors to examine [some] cartoons for extremism and pornographic content," Strelchik said, adding that a review of the network's entire content for violations could also be carried out in the next few days.

He said a finding against the channel could result in a warning or in it being shut down.

Pavel Zyryanov, a member of the State Duma's Youth Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that his committee could propose a youth television channel offering a "proper" message if 2x2, which he said broadcasts Western cartoons containing "porn" and "obscenities," does not have its license renewed.

"We need to replace this seamy side with educational programs," Zyryanov said. "We must teach youth to respect family values, be patriotic and take part in sports."

2x2 spokeswoman Maria Telesheva said Tuesday that she could not comment until the inspection service ruled on the case.

Several hundred people gathered across from Pushkin Square in central Moscow on Monday calling for an end to the threat to the station, and about the same number were at Novoslobodskaya metro station Monday night collecting signatures in support of 2x2, Interfax reported Tuesday.

On Sept. 8, prosecutors accused the channel of promoting religious hatred in an episode of the cartoon "South Park" and violating children's rights by airing programs like "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy."

The channel responded by pulling 118 of the contentious episodes cited by the Prosecutor General's Office pending the resolution of the dispute.

Strelchik, the spokesman for the inspection service, said the channel's frequency would be offered in a tender if the license is not renewed.