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Indonesia's Telkom unblocks Netflix as it amps digital push

Telkom's approval comes after Netflix agreed to offer parental controls and to examine complaints from the government or regulators within 24 hours.


INDONESIA'S state-owned telecommunications firm Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) said on Tuesday it has unblocked streaming giant Netflix, after four years of negotiations.

Telkom said that the decision came after a "change in the US company's approach to the country". This includes Netflix offering parental controls, as well as agreeing to examine complaints from Indonesia's government or regulators over content within 24 hours.

After Netflix launched in January 2016 in Indonesia, it ran afoul of the Indonesia's film censorship board in the same year for carrying content deemed inappropriately violent or sexual. It was subsequently blocked by Telkom, who said it would continue blocking the service until it adhered to the country's regulations.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country with a youthful population of 270 million, is experiencing a boom in its digital economy, which is seen reaching US$130 billion by 2025, said a study by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Company.

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State-owned Telkom, which operates a mobile carrier with 170 million mobile subscribers as well as a home Internet company, is aiming to increase the availability of content providers to its users. The mobile carrier, Telkomsel, is 65 per cent owned by Telkom and 35 per cent owned by locally listed Singtel.

Netflix business development manager Tizar Patria Irsyadi said that they were "delighted that Netflix is now accessible through Telkom".

"We look forward to continually improving our service for all Indonesians as we introduce more local shows on our service," he added.

The announcement comes on the same day that Netflix was named as among several foreign Internet firms that would be required to pay a 10 per cent value-added tax in the country, which a spokesman for the United States-based company said it would comply with.

Telkom's vice-president for corporate communications Arif Prabowo said he hoped that Netflix would advance the country's entertainment industry by increasing the number of local productions.

Mr Prabowo separately told Reuters that as part of its digital push Telkom had held discussions with Disney's Disney+ platform, but that no agreement had yet been reached.

Disney+ is currently in the middle of a hiring spree in the region, and is expected to launch in South-east Asia as early as 2021. REUTERS

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