MTRCB has no jurisdiction over Netflix, other video streaming apps: media law professor


Posted at Sep 04 2020 01:46 PM

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MANILA - A media law professor said Friday that the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has no power to regulate content on video streaming apps like Netflix.

This, amid the board's call for lawmakers to craft policy that would allow the agency to "regulate" content on international streaming site Netflix and other similar providers. 

“Wala pong jurisdiction ang MTRCB sa mga video streaming apps pagka't ang computer programs ay property at ang may jurisdiction dito ay mga courts,” said lawyer Marichu Lambino, a professor on media law and ethics at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications.

(The MTRCB has no jurisdiction over video streaming apps because computer programs are property and courts have jurisdiction over that.)

Still, she called for vigilance, saying there might be moves that may add more power to the board.

“Kailangan nating bantayan kasi magiging board of censor siya na hindi pwedeng magpalabas sa Netflix o iWant TV nang hindi humihingi ng permiso sa kanila at kung hindi nila bibigyan ng permiso hindi ito maaring mapalabas,” said Lambino.

(We have to keep watch because it will become a censorship board that would censor Netflix or iWant shows without first seeking its permission and if they don't, the shows can't come out.)

In an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo, Lambino said the MTRCB can go to regular courts to file a complaint if they find something offensive with the content, but it cannot stop video streaming apps. 

She explained that streaming platforms use internet service providers covered by a legislative franchise. MTRCB has no jurisdiction over internet service providers and computer programs such as streaming apps. 

Lambino said that if the MTRCB is given jurisdiction over streaming platforms, it could then also go after movies and videos streamed on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google as internet apps have the capability to stream videos.

“Kung 'yun ang gusto niyang mangyari lahat po 'yan ay ire-regulate ng MTRCB at hindi po puwedeng gawin ng MTRCB na i-restrict ang internet dahil ang internet mas malaki pa sa planeta. Hindi po siya Diyos, wala po siyang kapangyarihang sagkaan ang Facebook, YouTube, ganyan,” she said.

(The MTRCB can't restrict the internet because the internet is bigger than the planet. The MTRCB is not God, it has no power to regulate Facebook, YouTube.)

Netflix earlier said it has logged some 16 million new subscribers globally in the first quarter of 2020 after thousands of people were forced to stay indoors as various governments imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Sa tingin ko, gusto nilang magkaroon ng karagdagang kapangyarihan dahil karamihan ng mga mamamayan ngayon ay nanonood na ng video streaming app sa halip na pumunta sa sinehan dahil sa pandemic. So nawalan siya ng trabaho. Baka nawalan rin siya ng kita,” she said.

(I think they want to have additional powers because more people now are watching through video streaming instead of the cinema because of the pandemic. So it has nothing to do. Maybe it (MTRCB) also lost income.)