SINGAPORE — Netflix removed two drug-related titles from its Singapore catalogue in 2020 after a demand from the government, the streaming service said.
The titles are Cooked With Cannabis, a cooking competition series in which contestants use marijuana as a culinary ingredient, and Have A Good Trip: Adventures In Psychedelics, a documentary exploring the science and cultural impact of hallucinogens featuring celebrities such as singer Sting and actor Nick Offerman.
Two other such censorship notices in 2020 came from Turkey, who asked for the removal of the film Cuties and one episode – Family Ties – from the series Designated Survivor.
Netflix released details of the take-down demands it received in its latest Environmental Social Governance (ESG) report, which can be viewed here.
Beginning last year, Netflix said it would release an ESG report annually as part of its efforts to be more transparent about its impact on society and its governance structures. Each report would include details on content that is removed upon orders from governments. Netflix only removes content if it receives written demands from governments. The company treats such written requests as legal demands, and seeks to comply with local laws wherever it operates.
In Netflix's first ESG report released last year (viewable here), the streaming company said that over its first 23 years of operation, it took down nine pieces of content from its service at the behest of governments. The four titles removed in 2020 brings the total to 13.
Netflix had previously removed five titles in Singapore upon written demands made by the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Three of those five titles were also drug-related, namely: Cooking On High, The Legend Of 420 and Disjointed.
The remaining two were films with religious themes: The Last Hangover, and The Last Temptation Of Christ.
In its report, Netflix said its catalogue varied from country to country depending on its rights to content. "In some cases, we’ve also been forced to remove specific titles or episodes of titles in specific countries due to government takedown demands," it added.
Singapore has a strict anti-drug policy, with capital punishment for serious drug trafficking offences. The city-state also has conservative censorship guidelines under which sensitive content related to race, religion and LGBTs is restricted or banned.
An IMDA spokesperson said last year in response to Netflix's ESG report, "Over-the-top service providers in Singapore are expected to abide by IMDA’s Content Code for Over-the-Top, Video-on-Demand and Niche Services, which includes the Classification Ratings. The Content Code serves to protect the young from unsuitable content, maintain community norms and values, and safeguard public interests, while allowing adults to make informed choices."