Netflix blocked by Indonesia in censorship row | The Daily Star

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09:19 PM, January 28, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:27 PM, January 28, 2016

Netflix blocked by Indonesia in censorship row

Netflix has been blocked by Indonesia's biggest internet service provider, upsetting its move into the country.

The state-owned telecoms firm said it had concerns about the content Netflix was offering and accused it of failing to have a necessary business permit.

The US company announced earlier this month that it had added 130 countries, including Indonesia, to its service - taking it almost worldwide.

One expert said the setback had been "inevitable".

Telekom Indonesia said Netflix needed to work with it to ensure objectionable content was removed.

"The issue is about the permit. They don't follow the rules. They also display violence and adult content," the firm's consumer director Dian Rachmawan told the Jakarta Post newspaper.

"We must [block it] before things get more complicated and create a serious issue."

The country's government said that it was not behind the move.

"Other internet service providers are still allowing Netflix access. So, it is a pure corporate decision," said communications minister Rudiantara.

"[But] it will be difficult for Netflix. You can see for yourself on how much content there is [in Netflix] that must be censored."

Indonesia is one of Asia's most highly populated nations with about 250 million people living amongst its islands. Many of those people, however, would not have fast enough internet access to stream video.

Netflix has not disclosed how it intends to address the issue.

"We've seen these reports too and are looking into it. No further comment," a spokesman told the BBC.

Kenyan threat

The ban is not the first problem Netflix has faced since making its surprise announcement at the CES tech trade show.

The Kenya Film Classification Board is considering a block of its own saying the platform posed a "threat to our moral values and national security" because it had not submitted it shows for local ratings.

Vietnam's government has also told the service it must obtain an official licence and have its content edited by local censors or it would be in breach of the law.

The disputes will be closely watched in China, where Netflix is still seeking permission to launch.

"This was absolutely inevitable," commented Guy Bisson from the media research firm Ampere Analysis.

"When you are considering a global launch or even a local launch you have to take into account local regulations and politics as well as local morals and customs.

"There have been many incidents in the past where what seems to be an innocuous programme in the West caused problems when shown elsewhere.

"One example was the British quiz show Fifteen to One - it went down very badly in Asia because it was considered incredibly rude how the host spoke to the contestants."

However, Bisson added that this did not necessarily mean Netflix should have rolled out its service more slowly.

"You could argue it should have taken this into consideration," he said.

"But there will always be differences of opinion on local content and other teething problems."

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