Netflix has removed an episode of “Designated Survivor,” in which a fictitious Turkish president is portrayed as a villain, from its service in Turkey following a demand by the Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK).
“Following a demand from the Turkish regulator, we have removed one episode of ‘Designated Survivor’ from Netflix in Turkey only, to comply with local law,” Variety reported the streaming giant as saying in a statement on April 30.
Netflix reiterated in the statement that the episode of the U.S. political thriller that ruffled political feathers in Turkey “is still available on our service in the rest of the world.”
Turkish censors demanded that episode seven of season two of “Designated Survivor” was pulled from the site. It features a fictitious Turkish President named Fatih Turan, played by Troy Caylak, who comes under fire from the country’s opposition while he is in the U.S. to attend a NATO Summit where he meets with U.S. president Tom Kirkman, the show’s lead character, played by Kiefer Sutherland.
The episode features a war of words between the presidents of Turkey and the U.S. about a fictitious Nuri Şahin, whose extradition is sought by Ankara.
In the episode, Turan asks Kirkman to extradite Şahin, but Kirkman refuses on “the lack of legal basis of Turan’s accusation.”
The episode bears resemblance to an ongoing rift between the U.S. and Turkey over the extradition of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed to have masterminded the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
Ankara has been working towards Gülen’s extradition, but so far the efforts haven’t yielded any result.
Netflix’s compliance with the Turkish government’s order to pull the show’s sensitive episode is in line with the company’s policy of complying with local regulators in order to be present in a country.
According to Netflix’s 2019 Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Report, seen by Variety, there have been nine previous instances in which the streamer has complied with censors around the world.
The most recent instance occurred in January 2019 when Netflix pulled an episode of “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” in Saudi Arabia after the Saudi government leveled a legal threat over a segment in which the comedian criticizes U.S. ties to the country and ridicules Saudi attempts to explain the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In 2017 Netflix complied with a demand from the Vietnamese broadcasting authority to remove Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam war drama “Full Metal Jacket” from the service in Vietnam only.
Netflix is establishing a strong footprint in Turkey where it is backing several original productions such as hit supernatural dramas “The Protector” and “The Gift,” which also play on the platform outside Turkey. The Turkish TV market is among the world’s top five exporters of serial dramas.
Netflix picked up “Designated Survivor” in 2018 for season three, after U.S. broadcaster ABC canceled the show after two seasons. Following a single 10-episode run, the streaming giant pulled the plug in July.