Towards the end of the 20th Century, and perhaps during most of the first two decades of the 21st, Filipinos accepted that all film and television media in the Philippines, foreign or domestic, fell under the scrutiny of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). They are the ones who have been determining content ratings for cinema releases and TV programming, from safe “G” to “strict” “SPG.” For a time the MTRCB focused only on these traditional AV media (and home video). But with the advent of online streaming, the board has been making initial inroads into policing content streaming Pinoy-side as well.
As The Manila Bulletin puts it, the MTRCB is under increasing fire from Filipino streaming watchers as the national review/classification watchdog flexes with streaming platforms like Netflix to regulate their online content, to their ire. Strictly speaking, the MTRCB has no concrete powers to police streaming media the way they do movies and TV shows in the country. But recently they managed to convince Netflix to disable viewing of two episodes from Australian series “Pine Gap,” due to the political thriller featuring a South China Sea map with China’s “Nine-Dash Line” territorial claim, which is contested by the Philippine government.
In virtual interview, MTRCB executive director II/spokesperson and former Congressman Benjo Benaldo (picture, left) admitted that the board is indeed discussing the possibility of officially extending their regulation powers to streaming content showing within Philippine territory. “We still don’t have an official stand but we aim to come up with one soon,” says Benaldo. “The board will present an official stand in the next few weeks, hopefully.” At present, the MTRCB is transitioning from the chairmanship of Maria Rachel Arenas to Atty. Jeremiah Jaro (picture, right). The outgoing Arenas had been pushing for more streaming regulation powers for the MTRCB, something Jaro has mentioned in recent meetings of the board.
Local streaming viewers have voiced online opposition to an MTRCB proposition that stream services like Netflix adapt their rating system (G-SPG) for content viewable in the country. The recent pulling of “Pine Gap” episodes from Netflix’s Philippine streaming, done by the board to “prevent Filipino youth from contact” with the false Nine-Dash line claim by China, was slammed by netizens as a dangerous overreach. Already, more Pinoys are being drawn to streaming services for providing content more intense than MTRCB-regulated local fare, like hit Korean series “Squid Game” for example.
Image from Philippine Entertainment Portal