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Turkey’s state-run TRT to establish Netflix-like digital platform

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Turkish state broadcaster TRT will establish an international digital platform that will be an alternative to Netflix, the popular American streaming service and production company, its president has announced.

TRT General Manager Mehmed Zahid Sobacı, who spoke at a youth event in the southern province of Antalya on Sunday, said TRT would establish the digital and youth platforms in 2023 and would invest more money in the production of movies and games.

In his speech at the event, Sobacı said as the public broadcaster, they have a responsibility to acknowledge that the global system is in crisis and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also been warning about it.

“At a time when the global system is in crisis, you, as a country, have to better explain your stand on the national and international level. You need to eliminate the effects of the crisis on your country. You need to strengthen the relationship between the nation and the state,” said Sobacı.

He also criticized social media for turning into a source of disinformation and fake news while being presented as a venue where people can freely express their views.

Television shows have become one of Turkey’s most profitable exports in the past decade. The country has sold hundreds of series to media companies in more than 100 countries worldwide.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is accused by its critics of using TRT to spread its propaganda and interfering in the entertainment industry. TRT broadcasts several series that promote the policies of the AKP government.

Meanwhile, President Erdoğan and his government officials frequently attack social media and platforms such as Netflix, claiming that they spread fake news and immorality.

Turkey’s new social media law that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2020 tightens control over Internet platforms by requiring companies to respond within 48 hours to requests to remove content. The regulation is feared to be used to silence dissent in Turkey as it provides broad powers that allow authorities to block access to anything they might consider illegal.

Netflix revealed in 2021 that it had removed selected titles from its catalogues in Singapore and Turkey in 2020 following requests by the respective governments.

Netflix cancelled a series with a gay character in 2020 due to pressure from the Turkish government in a move labeled as a new extreme in censorship in the country.

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