Netflix abandons Turkey plans due to Internet, RTuK laws

Online film rental giant Netflix has abandoned its plans to enter the Turkish market after being discouraged by the restrictive regulations of the Radio and Television supreme Council (RTuK), according to a report in the Hurriyet daily on sunday.

Netflix, which describes itself as the world’s largest online television network and boasts more than 48 million subscribers in 40 countries, was planning to enter the Turkish market but abruptly abandoned its plans due to RTuK laws which censor certain images and a controversial Internet law, according to the Hurriyet report, which cited sources close to the company.

The RTuK regulations in question involve the censoring of certain onscreen images broadcast on television in Turkey, including cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and sexual intercourse, censorship regulations that many viewers consider a nuisance.

The company was also concerned about the Internet law that was passed in February, a controversial regulation that allows the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) to block a website within hours without obtaining a court order. The Internet law was the subject of intense criticism and sparked street demonstrations in various cities in Turkey prior to and following its passage.

Netflix, a company valued at $21 billion, would have likely been well received in Turkey, a country known for its high and frequent usage of social media and streaming websites, especially among the younger segments of the population. The company, which was founded in 1997, began by offering an online DVD rental service where customers could rent films as long as they like without worrying about late fees. It has also recently started to produce its own films and TV series, such as the hugely popular and critically acclaimed “House of Cards,” which was released solely via streaming on Netflix.