MTRCB wants content in Netflix, other video streaming sites regulated
MANILA, Philippines — The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on Thursday sought the “regulation” of video content in streaming platforms like Netflix.
During a Senate trade committee hearing on the proposed Internet Transactions Act, MTRCB’s legal affairs division chief Atty. Jonathan Presquito underscored the need to regulate streaming service platforms.
“There is a necessity for us to proceed with the regulation, especially during the lockdown,” Presquito said, stressing that most people subscribe to movie streaming services like Netflix, iFlix to keep their sanity intact.
“But all of those movies are unrated…,” he said.
Regulating content being offered in video streaming sites, he stressed, would ensure that these materials are compliant with the MTRCB law.
“Streaming services like Netflix are video-on-demand platforms. We have to regulate those platforms,” he added.
Presquito said when the entity is registered with MTRCB, three things can happen: Movies that would be streamed are age-appropriate, prohibited content can’t be seen, and the movies shown online are authorized by the distributors.
He said it is the mandate of the MTRCB to review content regardless of where it is being shown, adding that the internet is just a medium and it does not follow that the agency loses jurisdiction on shows being streamed into the country.
There should be a policy that would allow and guide the MTRCB to regulate content on video streaming platforms, according to Presquito.
“We want to be guided if we are included in the bill (proposed Internet Transactions Act). Maybe somebody helps us how we should proceed with the regulation right now of video-on-demand platforms,” he said.
“Because insofar as we are concerned, our working draft is ready. It’s a matter of implementation and there is just a hanging provision pertaining to legislation which we cannot resolve,” he added.
But Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, author of the bill, said the measure does not cover the regulation of video content being offered to online consumers.
“What our proposal intends to do is limited to the buying and selling of video on demand insofar as the content is concerned, whether that is Rated R or Rated 18+, ibang batas na ‘yon talaga (the measure for content review will involve another law),” Gatchalian said.
“It’s not part of this proposed law because that’s a whole new different dimension altogether,” he added.
In response, Presquito said that in other countries, all Netflix content undergoes prior review, citing South Korea’s policy that requires the prior review of the contents from the American movie and technology giant.
“We want an environment of growth and, in fact, during our engagement with different regulators in the [Southeast Asian] region, the commonality is let’s allow the streaming service to flourish but how [do we] balance that with the regulatory mechanisms,” he said.
Still, Presquito maintained that MTRCB law covers all motion picture content regardless of the platform.
“If the entity selling the material, then that entity first must be registered with the MTRCB and second the material being sold must be duly passed upon by the MTRCB. Otherwise, it is a clear violation of the MTRCB law,” he added.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of the Senate committee, then asked the MTRCB to “actively” participate in discussions regarding the measure as his panel looks into the agency’s proposal. [ac]
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