Netflix should be subjected to Kenyan rating standards, KFCB says

What you need to know:

  • The Kenya Film Classification Board says Netflix is not an exception to the law since it is foreign content.

The US-based streaming service Netflix is already facing compliance issues with the Kenyan film regulator barely two days after its launch in the country.

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) said Friday that Netflix is not an exception to the law since it contains foreign content, adding that it has identified inappropriate programmes hosted by the on-demand media provider that is wrongly rated for age 13 years.

The regulator says it will flag the unsuitable content and block it within an hour of reporting.

The KFCB chief executive officer Ezekiel Mutua said they are relying on the Films and Stage Plays Act which deals with regulation of film content.

He added that the Kenya Information and Communications Act 2013 also empowers the board to impose any restrictions on all films to be aired by broadcast stations (whether mainstream or online) to ensure they conform to national values.

He said that they will be engaging Netflix in discussions on Monday to make them understand the Kenyan law on foreign film content.

“We can charge Netflix for bringing in inappropriate content without examination by KFCB but since we do not want to discourage and scare foreign investors, we shall be meeting with them on Monday and make clear our ratings,” he said in a statement to the Business Daily.

KFCB head of compliance, Emmah Irungu, told journalists Friday that any foreign content once received in the country shall be subjected to the Kenyan law.

“In this case, Netflix will be subjected to the film classification guidelines in the country,” said Ms Irungu, saying that what could be considered as extreme violence in one country may be rated differently in another.

“Since it is in Kenya then it needs to be subjected to the Kenyan ratings for consumer protection.”

The Department of Film Services (DFS) on Wednesday handed over all regulatory responsibilities to KFCB with effect from January 1, 2016. This makes KFCB the sole regulator of the industry overseeing licensing, production as well as marketing of film, dramas, documentaries and advertisements.

Netflix offers unlimited access to movies, documentaries and series at monthly rates of between Sh815 and Sh1,222, a significantly lower fee than the rate cards of Kenyan pay-TV firms Wananchi Group and MultiChoice, which operate Zuku and DSTV respectively.

The streaming services provider with a high uptake in the US has hit audience ratings and slashed advertising revenues for cable and satellite channels.

It boasts about 74 million subscribers mainly in the US and Europe.

This article has been edited to include comments from the KFCB chair Ezekiel Mutua.

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