General Lee Dukes of Hazzard Confederate Flag
The Dukes' 1969 Dodge Charger, dubbed The General Lee, sporting the Confederate flagGabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

A US TV station has decided to pull re-runs of The Dukes of Hazzard, reigniting a heated debate over the use of the Confederate flag.

TV Land axed the iconic 1980s comedy amid growing concerns about displaying of the emblem, which is painted on the roof of the heroes' 1969 Dodge Charger, dubbed The General Lee.

The Viacom-owned broadcaster didn't say why it took the series off air, but it is believed to have acted in line with a number of companies, including Amazon and Walmart, which removed items showing the controversial flag in the wake of the racially motivated shooting of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.

TV Land's action drew criticism from fans of the series and even some of its stars.

An online petition against the decision gathered almost 25,000 signs in a few hours.

"The Dukes was about family values, fighting corruption, helping friends, neighbours and even strangers... no matter what colour they were," organiser Donald Covell wrote. "It's time to draw the line in the sand and say 'enough is enough', and political correctness has gone too far."

Actor John Schneider, who played Bo Duke, tweeted a photo of Charleston church shooting suspect Dylann Roof burning a US flag saying: "I am grossly offended by flag burning. But... is the Golds Gym logo to be considered a symbol of racism as well now?"

"I am saddened that one angry and misguided individual can cause one of the most beloved television shows in the history of the medium to suddenly be seen in this light," Schneider added speaking to The Hollywood Reporter. "Are people who grew up watching the show now suddenly racists?"

Actor Ben Jones, the series' Cooter, vented his anger on Facebook.

"That flag on top of the General Lee made a statement that the values of the rural South were the values of courage and family good times," he wrote, all in capital letters.

"Our beloved symbol is now being attacked in a wave of political correctness that is unprecedented in our nation of free speech and free expression. Activists and politicians are vilifying Southern culture and our heritage as being bigoted and racist. We know that this is not the case. And we know that in Hazzard county there was never any racism."

Critics say the flag symbolises America's racist past for its ties to Confederate states' pro-slavery stance.

A campaign for have it removed from public display gained momentum after it emerged that a professed racist gunman who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, had posed with the flag in photos posted online.