Gulf Arab states have launched a rare, coordinated campaign against streaming giant Netflix, calling on it to remove “offensive” material as they seek to regulate television content produced outside their jurisdiction.
Saudi Arabia issued a statement on Tuesday on behalf of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, saying the bloc has asked Netflix to take down programming that violates Islamic values, including some content directed at children.
The United Arab Emirates, which issued its own statement, said that Netflix violated local regulations and “contradicts the country’s societal value.” Its media watchdog would be monitoring Netflix’s content “from now on” and will take action if local laws are flouted.
The statements didn’t specify what content was causing offense but Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya news channel on Tuesday ran segments condemning the streaming service for “promoting sexual deviance” to children, in an apparent reference to homosexuality.
“Pay a monthly fee to Netflix, and your child gets to watch this immoral content,” the voice-over says, as a blurred scene apparently showing a same-sex embrace from “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” is played with ominous music in the background. It cited social media campaigns calling for the banning of Netflix.
Gulf states have said that their grievance with the streaming service has to do with content that violates social norms, but Saudi Arabia has in the past demanded the removal of politically sensitive content too. In 2019, Netflix obliged the kingdom by removing an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” that mocked the kingdom.