- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

Banishing Bart

A Russian lawyer who says the animated television satire “The Simpsons” has caused moral harm to his son plans to petition the European Court of Human Rights after a Russian court rejected his case for the show to be removed from prime-time viewing slots.

The lawyer, Igor Smykov, charged that the popular program, syndicated in many countries around the world, spread “propaganda of violence, cruelty, drugs and homosexuality,” but a spokeswoman for the Moscow court that heard his case confirmed it was rejected.

Mr. Smykov, quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency, said he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

“I think I will be understood there,” the agency quoted him as saying.



In addition to demanding that the broadcast of the show on Russian television be confined to late viewing slots less likely to be seen by children, Mr. Smykov also sought 300,000 rubles ($10,000) in compensation for moral damage to his family, particularly his 9-year-old son.

Last March, lawmakers from the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party tried but failed to have the culture ministry ban the broadcast of “The Simpsons” on Russian television.

According to the TNS Gallup Media ratings firm, more than half of the viewers who watch “The Simpsons” in Russia are between the ages of 4 and 18.

The comical series, a pop culture phenomenon in the West, portrays aspects of American social life through the daily travails of the Simpson family, led by Homer, the overweight and lazy father, his hardworking wife, Marge, and their three children: troublemaker Bart, supertalented Lisa and baby Maggie.

Trio’s rebirth

The struggling Trio is leaving the cable dial, but it won’t disappear entirely.

The network, known for its acerbic look at pop culture, will become a broadband offering on the Web, Associated Press reports.

Trio currently is available in just 9 million of the nation’s 110 million television homes. It will sign off at the end of the year, NBC said. Its fate effectively was sealed last year when it was bought by NBC Universal, which also owns the similar and more widely distributed Bravo. Trio subsequently was dropped by DirecTV, taking away more than half of its distribution, and prospects for going wider were dim.

Come Jan. 1, Trio will begin again as a broadband network under the BravoTV.com banner — an idea that would have been laughable just months ago but has become a serious business prospect. MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon all have recently started their own online networks.

Trio wasn’t able to say which of its programs would make the move to broadband because use of any shows on another platform must be negotiated with the people who made them. But, “it will feel like the channel,” Trio President Lauren Zalaznick told AP.

Miss Zalaznick also hopes that some of Trio’s documentaries, including the ones about show-business flops and the lives of Elvis Presley impersonators, will make the move to broadband. There are no plans to keep any of Trio’s programming available on traditional television after it’s shutdown, but Miss Zalaznick says it is possible some shows could find their way to Bravo if they become popular on the Web.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kevin Chaffee from wire reports.

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