During a recent Senate hearing, Sen. Robin Padilla broached the possibility of crafting a law that would allow the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to act against inappropriate content on online streaming platforms.
“Concerned lang ako doon, wala pong batas? Tayo ba, kailangang gumawa ng panukalang batas tungkol dito? Ano ang legality nito sa Constitution (I am concerned – is there no law on this yet? We must thus craft a bill on this, keeping in mind its legality under the Constitution)?” Padilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Mass Media and Public Information, said Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the hearing of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on the budget of the MTRCB for 2023.
Padilla also asked the MTRCB under Lala Sotto-Antonio on what it needs the Senate to do, to address this problem — but without violating the Constitution and its guarantee of freedom of expression.
Sotto-Antonio noted the MTRCB’s powers are limited by the provisions of Presidential Decree 1986, and currently covers only content on television, including “TeleRadyo” or radio shows that feature televised content. She added the MTRCB also does not have jurisdiction over “straight news” without “public affairs” content.
When asked by Padilla if the MTRCB has jurisdiction over streaming platforms like TikTok and YouTube, Sotto-Antonio said it does not, due to the limitations of PD 1986 which was crafted in the 1980s.
“Kaya hindi pa kasama ang online streaming sa MTRCB (That is why our charter does not yet cover online streaming),” she said.
For now, Sotto-Antonio said they coordinate with companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime that have their own parental controls. She said they are cooperative in acting on questionable content.
“Can you call them and talk to them about it? With Sen. Robin, we can draft together something that will not make it more stringent but will allow evaluation if they are showing it here,” noted Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Committee on Finance subcommittee and is a former head of the MTRCB.
Padilla added his Senate Committee on Mass Media and Public Information will hold hearings on the issue, and may invite representatives of Netflix and other streaming platforms — as well as those from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.
“Mas maganda na makasama sila kung anong gagawin nating panukalang batas (It is better if we include all stakeholders in crafting our proposed measure),” he said.