Technology

New content rules target streaming firms, creators

Christopher-Wambua

Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Christopher Wambua. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Commercial TVs and radios will review 70 percent of the content aired for age appropriateness to show if it’s good for watching from a certain age, with the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) doing the 30 percent.
  • This will target pre-recorded programmes such as movies, advertisements and telenovelas — other than live shows like news and talk shows.

Broadcasters, film creators and online streaming service platforms will start classifying content under new regulations meant to keep up with increased production.

Commercial TVs and radios will review 70 percent of the content aired for age appropriateness to show if it’s good for watching from a certain age, with the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) doing the 30 percent.

This will target pre-recorded programmes such as movies, advertisements and telenovelas — other than live shows like news and talk shows.

Digital platforms such as Netflix, Showmax and Amazon will also review 70 percent of their movies and affix KFCB’s age-appropriate symbols using the local film classification guidelines.

The regulation follows an expansion of the production and broadcast sector, coupled with the proliferation of unclassified content on electronic media platforms.

“Classification of one-day content can take one week and we are not able to keep up. So the involvement of the industry is to ensure compliance while coping up with digital expansion,” said KFCB acting chief executive Christopher Wambua.

Currently, the law requires the KFCB to examine and classify 100 percent of all operators’ audiovisual content meant for exhibition in Kenya. For a movie of 45 minutes to one hour, the classification fees range between Sh4,500 and Sh6,000.

Commercials are charged Sh1,000 while music items are at Sh300 per item, according to the Films and Stageplays Act, Chapter 222.

Failure to classify will see the offending broadcaster or online streaming platform submit 100 percent content to the KFCB for classification and charged Sh100,000 penalty for each violation.

Market dynamics

There are more than 100 TV stations and 1,000 radios in Kenya.

The migration from analogue to digital TV transmission and the rapid penetration of the Internet have resulted in an increase in content production and distribution platforms, forcing the regulator to adopt frameworks to align with market dynamics.

“With the existing staffing levels, the film and broadcast content regulator, KFCB, cannot cope with the legal requirement to examine and classify all audiovisual content meant for broadcast, distribution and exhibition in the country,” said the KFCB.

The new rules will ease the process of classification for broadcasters and facilitate an enabling regulatory environment for the broadcast sector in light of high competition from online streaming services.