Feel powerful yet? Pinoy censors say Netflix regulation meant to ’empower’ viewers

<i>Film grab from 1999’s Superstar via Paramount Pictures</i>
Film grab from 1999’s Superstar via Paramount Pictures

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) today said that the proposed measure to regulate content on Netflix and other international video-streaming services was meant to empower Filipino viewers.

The government agency yesterday asked senators to create a policy allowing them to regulate content on the said streaming services, which drew massive flak from Pinoys online.

Read: You too, Netflix: Filipino gov’t censors want video-streaming services regulated

“It’s not to curtail their freedom; it’s really actually to empower our viewers especially now that majority of people are working from home, they do home school. It’s to empower them,” MTRCB chair Rachel Arenas told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo in English and Filipino.

Arenas said the agency also encourages self-regulation and will rely on viewers’ reports. The official said that they are still in the process of crafting guidelines of the measure and assured the public that if the regulation is approved, it won’t be as strict as the one being implemented in South Korea.

“Culture differs in every country, [in South Korea] they review every material that comes out in Netflix that’s why [their content is] delayed for six months or even a year…for me, I just don’t want others to affix a negative connotation when they hear MTRCB. It’s like they feel angry instantly, MTRCB is different now, the times have changed,” Arenas added.

The MTRCB is mandated to review and classify moving pictures and television shows that are shown in the country as it sees fit for Pinoy viewers’ consumption.

Just last year, the censors’ board banned indie film Metamorphosis  from screening in major theaters due to graphic sex scenes, saying it was “unsuitable for public exhibition.” Many consider the blocking of the film —which humanizes an intersex character — infringing on freedom of expression.

Read: Getting free movie passes is not a right, MTRCB tells deputies

Several lawmakers including Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel during the hearing yesterday was skeptical about the proposal saying crafting an “archaic” policy might “hold back technological progress.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano today said that a presidential decree which granted powers to the MTRCB in 1986 limited its scope to films, TV programs, and commercials for public exhibition.

“No Netflix stated there. Because this law was crafted before the commercial use of the internet – and that medium has since grown by leaps and bounds,” he said.

“This is the kind of bureaucratic thinking that gives government workers a bad name…MTRCB is focused on the outdated mindset of information regulation and censorship. What decade are you on?” he asked.

“Congress will give them a chance to explain how they came up with this ridiculous idea,” Cayetano said.

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