New MTRCB chair Lala Sotto to focus on safe viewing spaces for children

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2022 05:59 PM

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MANILA -- Amid the proliferation of online streaming platforms, newly appointed chairperson of the Movie and TV Review Classification Board (MTRCB) Lala Sotto stressed the need to protect the interests of children.

“My main goal is to ensure a safe viewing experience for our children at home,“ Sotto told ABS-CBN News at her first media conference in Quezon City. 

The daughter of former senate president Tito Sotto and actress Helen Gamboa shared her own childhood experience when Gamboa strictly monitored their television viewing. 

“We had no separate TV sets on our own. Most of the time we watched television in our parents’ bedroom,” she recalled.

She is not about to judge filmmakers and the supposed glut of sex-oriented content on popular platforms but as a mother, Sotto spoke her mind. “As a parent, I am concerned. I don’t think it is right,” she said.

Sotto clarified that streaming platforms are not within the purview of the MTRCB which is only mandated by law to review and classify TV shows and movies shown in theaters according to audience suitability. 

Nonetheless, in the pursuit of parents’ role in safeguarding their children’s viewing habits, the mother of two has started talks with online producers. The list includes Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

“We have started to engage with them. We’ve also started talking with Vivamax. We’ve only just began and look forward to a healthy harmonious relationship with them,“ she said. 

Sotto was named MTRCB chair in early July by the Marcos administration, a twist of fate that also surprised her since she had just finished her bout with COVID-19. 

She also lost her bid as a party-list nominee of AGAP or the Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines party-list in the last elections. "I didn’t know that God will open a bigger door for me,” she said. 

The 45-year-old Sotto brings 22 years of government service to her new role as MTRCB chair, which in the past was held by Senator Grace Poe, who Sotto considers one of her mentors. 

A former councilor of Quezon City, Sotto is a Consular Diplomatic Affairs graduate of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde. She also earned credits from Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education. 

She has yet to form her own team at the MTRCB which includes the appointment of over 10 board members from the TV and film industries.