“Bam!” goes the banhammer.
On 7th January, Netflix officially became the global Internet TV network with its worldwide rollout. And with such a huge international expansion comes one very big problem – censorship – because operating around the world means accommodating a huge range of cultural norms and sensitivities.
We can see why censorship would prove to be difficult because Netflix doesn’t operate like a traditional broadcaster or TV network would. But it didn’t take long for Netflix to experience its first “road block” because it has just been blocked in Indonesia.
According to a WSJ report, the largest telecom in Indonesia, the state-owned PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk., known as Telkom, has started blocking Netflix in the country. Telkom raised 2 objections:
- Netflix does not have a permit to operate in Indonesia.
- Netflix’s content may be too violent or adult to meet the country’s censorship standards.
An Indonesian official suggested to WSJ that Netflix register itself as a foreign provider of Internet-based media and “self-censor” its content. Netflix dished out their defense and said that it has ratings guides and parental controls as ways for viewers to control what they watch.
The official also revealed that the Indonesian government would make a decision next month on whether to fully block Netflix, or to perhaps create a new regulation that would allow companies like Netflix to continue operating. Despite the Telkom ban, the official said Netflix would be allowed to otherwise continue for now.
Regardless, this is one heck of a stumble and a significant one too as Indonesia is the world’s 4th most populous country. And it brings home what could possibly happen in Malaysia too.
Less than a week after Netflix was made available in Malaysia, MMO’s report quoted Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Salleh Said Keruak as saying that Netflix’s movies and TV series will still have to comply with local regulator Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s content standards. Salleh added that the MCMC can take action against Netflix if it makes offensive content available in Malaysia and breaches the regulator’s content standards.
The MCMC is currently mulling a new provision under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 to introduce licensing for over-the-top content application (OTT) providers like Netflix.
Let’s see how this one is gonna fly.