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Turkey orders Netflix to remove French film Cuties from its site

Turkey’s broadcast watchdog has the power to censor online TV platforms and streaming sites after a new law went into effect last year
French coming-of-age film 'Cuties' has been controversial (Netflix)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul

Turkey’s media watchdog RTUK has ordered Netflix to remove the French-made feature film Cuties for allegedly promoting the exploitation of minors.

The watchdog said in a press release on Thursday that Netflix is now required to remove Cuties, or Mignonnes in French, from its Turkish portal.

In doing so, RTUK is officially using new powers over social networks granted by a law last year.

The watchdog took the decision unanimously, receiving votes from the board members who were elected by the opposition parties. 

Turkey's Ministry of Family and Social Policy said last month the film "may cause children to be open to negligence and abuse, and negatively impact their psychosocial development," noting it appeared like a children's movie, but had an 18+ rating.

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Cuties drew harsh criticism in the US especially due to its now removed movie poster in which underage girls posed while twerking.  

Netflix has quickly apologised and amended the poster after it was accused of sexualising children.

Directed by Maimouna Doucoure, who grew up in Paris and comes from a Senegelese family, Cuties was an award winner this year at Sundance Film Festival. 

The film was originally presented by Netflix as a coming-of-age story focusing on 11-year-old Amy’s fascination with a twerking dance crew. “Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions,” the original synopsis said. 

But the streaming platform amended this to say that Amy, who is from a traditional Senegelese Muslim family, was “revelling against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.” 

Turkey’s broadcast watchdog has been given the power to censor online TV platforms and streaming sites like Netflix after a new law went into effect last year. 

Advocates say the law is critical for national security and public morality in the country, but critics warn that the rules are being used to control opposition outlets and other platforms.

The law, which was ratified by the parliament in 2019, requires international streaming giants or online TV networks to establish local companies, open offices in Turkey and purchase government licenses that cost just over $17,000.

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