Turkish Authorities Extends Censorship Against Netflix Turkey

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Censorship against Netflix Turkey has reached a scary point. Turkish authorities, Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) have been attacking free media for a while. However, these attacks have reached a far more fraught and dangerous level. Turkey now puts new obstacles against Netflix Turkey through extend censorship and new taxes over “Tales of Arcadia“. Another original content of Netflix, “Love 101” is another argument of radio and television watchdog of Turkey to restrict Netflix.

The official poster of Netflix Turkey's original series Love 101.
The official poster of Netflix Turkey’s original series Love 101.

How did Censorship Debates Begin?

It all started with a brief kiss by two female characters in the animated series “Tales of Arcadia”. It was a very short moment that did not generate major criticism from viewers worldwide. However, this “innocent” kiss between kids became a scandal in Turkey.

Major news outlets like the pro-government Sabah called the July availability of the program on the Netflix streaming service an attempt. The gazette called the fact that a global “LGBTQ lobby” to promote homosexuality among Turkish children.

Censorship Against Netflix Turkey as Broadcast Television

The roots of the censorship debates go back to last year. And by early August, last year, Turkish authorities had announced that Netflix and other online content providers would be subject to the same censorship rules that exist for broadcast television. The censorship contains nudity, alcohol consumption, smoking, drug use, gory violence, and any other depiction. So, those behaviors found to be “against moral values” would not make it past censors, even if the content was viewed through subscription services.

Tales of Arcadia, in which two girls kiss each other, was the first reason that RTUK attacked to restrict Netflix Turkey. (Image Credit-Den of Geek)
Tales of Arcadia, in which two girls kiss each other, was the first reason that RTUK attacked to restrict Netflix Turkey. (Image Credit-Den of Geek)

The Real Target of the Government: LGBTQ and Homosexuality

The more Justice and Development Party (AKP) becomes conservative and authoritative, the more it raises its voice against minorities and opposites. And they mostly target the LGBTQ community in Turkey. Unsurprisingly, the government takes a position against online content providers such as NETFLIX over homosexual relationships. However, most critics claim that the real aim of the government is to shut the opposite’s voices down.

Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Assn. has recently announced a report. So, according to this report, by the end of 2018, Turkish authorities blocked more than 245,000 websites, including pornography, Wikipedia, and scores of news outlets. Thus, the restriction of “Love 101” or other such contents actually shows the real intent of the government. The real intent is probably to control the views against AKP and its policies.

Another Censorship News for Netflix Original “The Protector”

Turkey’s media watchdog has signaled censorship of a scene that features two women kissing in the Netflix series The Protector. Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) head İbrahim Uslu has responded to a tweet that complained about the scene. The owner of the account asked whether the watchdog has seen it.

The Protector (Hakan Muhafız) is the first original production of Netflix Turkey.
The Protector (Hakan Muhafız) is the first original production of Netflix Turkey.

Ibrahim Uslu’s reply was “We watched it😉”.

RTUK’s Censorship Against Netflix Turkey

The RTUK has the authority to control the content on Netflix as part of a regulation introduced on Aug. 1, 2019.

Most recently, Mahir Ünal, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) deputy chair in charge of publicity and media, has implied that the Turkish government pressured Netflix Turkey to change the scenario of the teen drama Love 101.

Censorship against Netflix Turkey raises fear of free speech. (Image Credit-The New York Times)
Censorship against Netflix Turkey raises fear of free speech. (Image Credit-The New York Times)

“Netflix had previously commissioned a series [to Turkish producers]; the scenario of the series was prepared, and the series was about a homosexual character named Osman,” Ünal told journalist Cüneyt Özdemir on July 6.

So, Ünal’s remarks have exposed the censorship imposed on the series as none of the characters in the show are homosexual.

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