After taxing universal quarantine essentials Spotify and Netflix, it seems that the government is making yet another move that could land them a big ol’ buzzkill stamp. According to reports, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) now wants content on streaming services regulated.
“For us, streaming services like Netflix are video-on-demand platforms,” says MTRCB’s legal affairs division chief Atty. Jonathan Presquito during a Senate hearing on the proposed Internet Transactions Act. “We have to ensure that those materials being shown on those platforms are compliant with the MTRCB law.”
For folks at the MTRCB, the internet isn’t the free real estate the world treats it to be. The review and classification board calls out platforms like Netflix and iFlix, saying that they still fall under MTRCB’s domain—even if it’s on the web. “Internet is just a medium. Hindi porque sa internet pinalabas ang isang pelikula ay therefore wala na siya sa jurisdiction ng MTRCB.”
Have the powers that be caught up with us, fleeing from cable to streaming platforms? (Side note: Who still watches cable, anyway?) Presquito says that MTRCB wants to be guided if they’ll be part of the proposed Internet Transactions Act. The bill’s author Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, however, says that regulation of content isn’t part of his proposed measure.
“But insofar as the content is concerned, whether that is Rated R or Rated 18+, ibang batas na ho ’yun talaga,” the senator says. “It is not part of this law because that’s a whole new different dimension altogether.”
Presquito clarifies that they want to “allow the streaming services to flourish” while “balancing [them] with regulatory mechanisms.”
Does this mean we’re getting that SPG warning when we click on a show? If that’s the case, then the Philippines would join several countries that regulate shows on Netflix. Presquito cites South Korea’s regulation practices, while other countries like Indonesia, Turkey and India have been embroiled in similar regulations. An annual report from Netflix has listed “censorship” as one of its business risks. For us, an SPG rating is just the tip of it—we just hope this doesn’t edge closer to total censorship. Seriously, throw us a bone, please.
Art by Renz Mart Reyes