Netflix CEO defends censoring anti-government video in Saudi Arabia

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How would a patriot act? —

“We’re not in the news small business,” Reed Hastings reported. “We are hoping to entertain.”

Timothy B. Lee

A man in a sweater gesticulates while speaking.
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Comic Hasan Minhaj in 2019.

As 2019 started, Netflix suppressed an episode of comic Hasan Minhaj’s showPatriot Actfor the Saudi Arabian market, sparking outcry from some Western critics. In a Wednesday job interview, CEO Reed Hastings shrugged off those people issues.

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“We’re not in the news company,” he explained during an party sponsored by The New York Periods. “We’re not hoping to do ‘truth to electricity.’ We’re hoping to entertain.”

“We can complete a lot extra by getting entertainment and impact the conversation about the way persons dwell, fairly than remaining an additional news channel,” he additional.

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Netflix taken out the online video at the request of the Saudi government, which mentioned it violated a Saudi legislation prohibiting distribution of content that impinges on general public purchase, religious values, or general public morals.

The elimination prevented some Saudis from seeing the online video, at least on Netflix’s system. But it remained obtainable outside of Saudi Arabia. And Saudi censorship boosted Minhaj’s profile in the United States.

“For the first time in my everyday living, I was a bipartisan icon,” Minhaj joked. “Liberals and conservatives: they both embraced me like I was revenue from Huge Pharma.”

World-wide media businesses like Netflix facial area a difficult activity balancing the competing calls for of governments around the world. Totally free-speech purists would like firms to do additional to battle censorship in repressive nations around the world like Saudi Arabia. But you will find a hazard that a vigorous defense of absolutely free speech could get a business like Netflix banned from countries like Saudi Arabia entirely, which could be an even even worse outcome for flexibility of speech.

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