The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), the leading media-oversight body in Turkey, has ordered Spotify to remove “inappropriate content” – or face potential censorship in the nation of over 82 million residents.
Regional outlets including Arab News quickly picked up on The Radio and Television Supreme Council’s firmly worded warning to Spotify, which must now “regulate its content” – with an emphasis on the 2.6 million podcasts that the Stockholm-based platform hosts presently.
Worth mentioning here is that the RTUK in mid-October of 2020 demanded that Spotify pay three months’ worth of licensing fees upfront – and within 72 hours, no less. The publicly traded audio-entertainment service ultimately complied with the demand and, shortly thereafter, received a decade-long license to operate in Turkey.
And while this newest warning from the RTUK therefore comes as something of a surprise, timing-wise, Arab News indicated that Spotify’s “gained a wide audience recently as one of the last remaining outlets for free speech in Turkey, especially with its podcasts providing critical reporting and commentary on Turkish domestic politics.
“Spotify offers a relative free space in a media environment in which almost 90 percent of companies are related to pro-government conglomerates,” continued the Riyadh-based English-language newspaper, which Prince Turki bin Salman Al Saud (the brother of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman) owns.
Building upon the latter point, the Saudi government has taken far-reaching steps as of late to develop its entertainment space – and particularly its live-music sphere – including by investing $500 million in Live Nation in April of 2020.
The value of this stake (encompassing some 12.34 million shares) has since more than doubled, as evidence continues to suggest that the full-scale return of crowd-based entertainment will soon arrive.
It also bears noting that podcasts appear unavailable to Spotify users in multiple Middle Eastern nations, according to complaints levied by fans, one of whom lamented that he cannot access Joe Rogan’s recent sit down with comedian Dave Chappelle.
At the time of this piece’s publishing, podcasts including The Joe Rogan Experience were still live on Spotify Turkey, and company higher-ups didn’t seem to have publicly responded to the open-ended warning from The Radio and Television Supreme Council.
For reference, the top podcasts on Spotify Turkey are currently Reddit Zone (which features a parental-advisory warning on its cover image), a program from clinical psychologist Beyhan Budak, a show pertaining to mythological stories, and another mental-health podcast that translates to Under the Stairs Therapy, per Google Translate.
Back in August of 2020, Apple Music made the work of Zara Larsson unavailable to users in China after the singer-songwriter criticized the Chinese government; Apple earned nearly $18 billion from consumers in Greater China during 2021’s opening three months, according to the company’s latest earnings report.
Lastly, Spotify is officially investigating an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience over “COVID misinformation” concerns – though the controversial installment remains live.