Netflix has surprised the tech community, and perhaps some of the world, when it announced at a CES, a US technology show, that its streaming service is now available everywhere in the world except for China, North Korea, Crimea, and Syria.
And altering its original content to some of the more censorial of the new territories is something Netflix may have to confront. So far, however, Netflix hasn't censored any of its content, Anne Marie Squeo, a Netflix spokesperson, told Tech Insider:
We're an on-demand service that allows people to choose to sign up and decide what, where and when to watch, Squeo wrote in an email to Tech Insider. The service includes ratings guides and episode synopses to help people decide, and we also provide a
PIN-code system to ensure children can't view certain content.
But Reed Hastings, the company's CEO, hasn't ruled out censoring its programming in the future. The Verge's Ross Miller asked Hastings about the company's policy with regard to such censorship, and he didn't exactly give a straight answer:
As to your question about... different versions like airplane cuts, we'll have to see and we'll have to learn, Hastings said, according to The Verge . I think entertainment companies have to make compromises over time... the thrust of what we're trying
to do is have the artistic vision be consistent through the world.
The Bangkok Post outlines some of the issues about localised censorship requirements where the standard definition package costs 280 Baht ( £ 5.30) a month for 1 screen.
While opening the doors to Thai viewers , Netflix has not added any new Thai-language content beyond the small selection of films it already had. And while the company on Thursday added support for three new languages, Thai was not among them. Neither
the website, app or subtitles are available in Thai yet.
Another significant difference Thailand viewers may not look forward to is the same type of censorship used for movies showing in Thai movie theaters.
Netflix already applies censorship to movies showing in different markets around the world to adhere to local media laws. Eg Netflix already sanitises content in Japan, pixelating full-frontal nudity seen, for example, in the Marco Polo series produced
by Netflix as well as other content .
In Thailand, the service could follow standard practice at movie theaters (cinemas) by pixelating smoking, drinking and bloody violence , as well as censoring nude scenes .
Update: Indonesian censors are the first to whinge about worldwide Netflix
11th January 2016. See article from en.tempo.co
Netflix's expansion to Indonesia has agitated the Indonesian Censorship Agency (LSF).
LSF Chairman Ahmad Yani Basuki, together with the agency's members, held a meeting to discuss the online streaming service. During the meeting, Ahmad said that some of the movies provided by Netflix are not appropriate for Indonesian viewers There are
some movies that we have forbid from being screened in the cinemas, Ahmad said, without mentioning the titles.
Several scenes that must be cut out from a movie before it can be screened in Indonesia include scenes that exhibit violence, gambling, drug abuse, pornography, scenes that may well lead to sectarian conflict, blasphemy, encourage criminal acts, and
degrading human rights. Ahmad said too many of the abovementioned scenes in a movie will resulted in a ban.
In relation to Netflix, Ahmad underlined that Law No. 33/2009 on Movie Industry stated that movies that are going to be screened in Indonesia must first obtain a censorship letter from LSF. On the other hand, the American-based online streaming service
company is yet to file a request for censorship. Without the requirement, we will recommend the Communication and Informatics Ministry to block the service, Ahmad said.
Update: Kenyan film censors bid to censor Netflix turned down
13th January 2016. See article from telecompaper.com
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has differed with the Kenya Films and Classification Board (KFCB) over the handling of US online movie streaming service Netflix, which has launched operations in Kenya.
The CA said Netflix will not be asked to apply for a local broadcasting licence, meaning the US firm is exempt from local broadcasting censorship rules that are part of the licensing conditions.
Previously KFCB had announced that the US firm would not be exempted from the censorship law because it will be selling foreign content, adding that it had identified inappropriate programmes hosted by the on-demand service provider that are wrongly
rated for children aged 13 years.
Update: Vietnam is none too impressed
15th January 2016. See article from english.vietnamnet.vn
Netflix's video-streaming service is winding up Vietnam's censorial authorities. Lawyers have apparently raised questions about the legitimacy of Netflix's service providing in Vietnam and how it would affect Vietnam's own pay-TV market.
Ngo Huy Toan, inspector of the Ministry of Information and Communication, affirmed that all foreign firms which provide services to Vietnam but do not register their business and do not have licenses are violating Vietnamese laws. Also according to Toan,
the government of Vietnam allows foreign firms to team up with Vietnamese to provide pay-TV services. However, the firms must complete business registration in Vietnam, pay tax to Vietnam and respect Vietnamese laws.
Vietnam sets very restrictive regulations on TV program content editing, translation and content censoring. This means that movies and TV shows all must go through censorship before they can be shown in Vietnam.
Update: Malaysia considers censorship a must
15th January 2016. See article from themalaymailonline.com
Netflix's movies and television series that are streamed online will still have to comply with local regulator Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commision (MCMC)'s content censorship minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has said.
According to the New Straits Times (NST), Salleh told the paper that the MCMC can take action against Netflix if it makes offensive content available in Malaysia and breaches the regulator's content rules.
The communications and multimedia minister said MCMC will be asked to meet with Netflix to notify them of local content standards and their obligations.
Netflix still has to meet the local regulator's content standards even if it is exempt from getting a license as an over-the-top content application (OTT) provider like Facebook, Salleh said.
Malay Mail Online reported a US-based Netflix staff as confirming that there will be no censorship of television series and movies made available here, although certain content may be unavailable due to regional licensing restrictions.
Update: Indonesian censors block Netflix
27th January 2016. See article from cnet.com
Indonesian 's largest telco, PT Telkom Indonesia, announced that as of 12 a.m. Wednesday morning they had blocked access to the Netflix streaming service on all of its Internet platforms.
Dian Rachmawan, Telkom's Director of Consumers, said the ban was put in place due to Netflix not following the country's broadcast laws and for having violent and pornographic content. Rachmawan told Daily Social that he didn't want to ban Netflix
completely from the country ...BUT... rather wants to ensure they follow local regulations.
This blocking action will not have an impact to our customers. They [Netflix] are still small here. While they are still small, we will teach them to follow the rules here.