Only days after falling foul of government censors in Kenya, streaming giant Netflix has been blocked in Indonesia. The great disrupter has been accused of not obtained necessary local permits and submitting content for censorship approval. Indonesia’s largest telco, Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), which is majority owned by the Indonesian state, has blocked Netflix from all of its platforms. The move is a blow to Netflix given that Indonesia, with its population of 250 million, is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and the fourth most populous country in the world. Indonesia also reps a growing Asian market for content providers.
The move underscores the challenges Netflix will face in truly securing its ambition to be a global TV network, as chief Reed Hastings described it recently.
The Indonesian Censorship Agency (LSF) had previously recommended a ban on Netflix for not submitting its content for inspection, while Indonesia’s communications and information ministry had also called on Netflix to adhere to the country’s licensing requirements — namely owning a legal entity in the country, having an Indonesian partner, or applying to the ministry for a special license. Much of the problems stem from defining exactly what Netflix is: Authorities in Indonesia are seeking to classify the company as a traditional TV network, thereby obliging it to submit to local broadcasting regulations. Netflix execs, on the other hand, see it as an IPTV platform, thereby exempting them from those limits.
“Netflix is an Internet television network, not a traditional broadcaster,” said Netflix in a statement. “Services delivered over the Internet present all sorts of novel questions for policymakers. To watch anything on Netflix, consumers have to subscribe. We empower consumers to make smart viewing choices by providing details on the titles on Netflix, including ratings and episode synopses. We also provide parental controls.”
Only days ago, Netflix was blasted by Kenya’s film classification board for showing “shockingly explicit eroticism” and accused of also operating without the necessary license. “It will be against our mandate to allow our children to get ruined by inappropriate content in the name of profit,” the Kenya Film Classification Board said in a statement. “As a progressive country, we cannot afford to be passive recipient of foreign content that could corrupt the moral values of our children and compromise our national security.”
Internet companies do not need to obtain a license in Kenya, while broadcasters do. As part of the “Netflix Everywhere” drive, Hastings said on January 6 that Netflix had expanded into 130 new countries including Russia, India and in the Middle East.