US firm cuts out parts of Nickelodeon kids cartoons from Kenya


Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Dr. Ezekiel Mutua. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Nickelodeon, the American production house that supplies pay-TV company MultiChoice with children’s content, has suspended three of its cartoons said to glorify homosexuality from the Kenyan market.

Viacom, the US-based company that owns Nickelodeon, has stopped supplying The Loud HouseThe Legend of Korra and Hey Arnold to MultiChoice – the owners of DStv and GOtv-- following an order by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB).

“We acknowledge the concerns raised by customers. While we explore a variety of options, we will suspend the shows in question in Africa,” Viacom said in a statement, adding that the decision was in line with its respect for local laws, cultures and sensitivities.

Cartoon Network, whose animations Clarence, Steven Universe  and Adventure Time were also sighted for allegedly promotion gay content, will air edited versions of the shows.

Ezekiel Mutua, KFCB’s chief executive, on June 15 wrote to MultiChoice ordering them to stop airing the shows, – a directive the South Africa firm forwarded to its suppliers.

Mr Mutua, in his letter to MultiChoice, said the six animations were targeting “young and impressionable minds” with cultural values that are inconsistent with Kenyan morals and “understanding of the institution of family.”

The films board says its order was anchored in the law, which defines marriage as a union of persons of different genders, the Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality and outlaws distribution and exhibition of indecent content.

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Mr Mutua argues that while the Freedom of Expression rights in the Constitution do not omit homosexuality or material promoting the same, the government has a duty to “protect children from such content.”

“Adults can choose to become homosexuals and exercise their rights on sexual orientation and relationships, but not so with children,” Mr Mutua said, adding that the board cannot allow homosexual content to be accessed by children in Kenya.

In March 2016, KFCB ordered American tech giant Google to take down a music video titled “Same Love” by Art Attack (Kenyan artistes), claiming it was promoting homosexuality.

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The video is still online, having attracted over 300,000 views on YouTube, a Google-owned platform.

Mr Mutua, albeit momentarily, also went after US-based streaming service Netflix soon after launch in January 2016 saying it has to adhere to local classification standards and that the board had already identified inappropriate programmes.

The Nigerian authorities last year forced MultiChoice to pull Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show from its entertainment channel E!, claiming the show promoted transgender behaviour.