Netflix dismisses speculation on exit from Turkey

Netflix on Monday dismissed reports of its withdrawal from Turkey following a censorship standoff with the country’s state broadcasting regulator over a gay character in a Turkish-made series.

“As Netflix, we maintain our deep connection to our members and creative community in Turkey,” Sözcü newspaper quoted the online streaming platform as saying in an official statement.

The statement follows reports in several Turkish news outlets that Netflix was pulling the plug on Turkey after the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) pressed the platform to censor a leading gay character in the teen drama series Aşk 101 (Love 101) .

"We are proud of the many talented people we work with. We are very excited about projects which are currently in the production phase and will begin filming soon and look forward to sharing these stories with members in every corner of the world,’’ Netflix said. 

The deputy chair of Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) created a stir last week, when he confirmed censorship in Aşk 101 by the state-run broadcasting watchdog.

Ünal said RTÜK had demanded that Netflix scrap the gay storyline in the series, sparking reports of the platform’s exit from Turkey.

Television series have become one of Turkey’s most valuable exports since the ruling AKP came to power in 2002, with hundreds of series being sold to countries in Eastern Europe, South America and South Asia and the Middle East. 

But RTÜK, controlled by allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has come under criticism for turning increasingly conservative under the 18-year rule of his party.