Are we getting fewer and more filtered Netflix shows soon? The Internet reacts as questions on jurisdiction and, more importantly, priorities, rise following a seemingly displaced call for control in a time of global pandemic.

/ 9 September 2020

Netflix has been headlining recently for a string of discussions on its content and possibility of having taxed. Since then, the Internet has since drew mixed reactions on how to feel about these issues and even question the government’s priorities while we’re still battling the pandemic. In one topic, The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) would like to regulate its content based on the criteria that should empower local viewers.

“It’s not to curtail their freedom, it’s actually to empower our viewers especially now ‘yung mga tao karamihan are working from home,” MTRCB chair Rachel Arenas says. The regulation was to check the content of Netflix if it complies with Filipino contemporary values which is one of the primary roles of the board. She states that cultures vary in every country and notes that even South Korea is reviewing material in Netflix therefore delays in releases happen back there. 

“In fairness with them, they’re willing to collaborate and cooperate with us.They agreed naman that they’re going to look at our guidelines and I assured them that we’re not going to give you a hard time,” Arenas says. Netflix has been widely available around the world with a vast library of different themes with guidelines of its content whether there’s explicit or PG-rated topics such as nudity and violence. It also has a feature for kids which censors any themes that are not suitable for their age.

Netflix have housed many controversial shows that revolve around mature themes such as ELITE, a teen show that delves on polygamy, racism, and AIDS awareness; Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, another teen series on witchcraft and satanic themes; then 13 Reasons Why on the sensitive topic of suicide.

At the same time, it also gave a platform for past local movies to resurface and find new success in it. These include Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap, Through Night and Day, Birdshot, and more. 

The regulation of content can possibly ban some of Netflix’s hits that can ultimately result to limiting its wide, extensive library. Several netizens expressed their disapproval because it will lessen the amount of shows they can watch and might miss some of the good releases that can only be available in other countries. Some are in agreement with MTRCB because it can help polish the values of viewers and avoid access of explicit material in it. 

Yung sa akin kasi I don’t want na pag naririnig nila ang MTRCB nega na agad. Parang galit sila agad. Iba naman ang MTRCB ngayon, the times have changed,” Arenas says. Aside from their own strict monitoring system, there will also be viewers’ reports to hear from the public as well on how to handle the matter.

It’s debatable on how these shows can be classified for its viewers when the internet is largely accessible to many. It may help in a way, but consequences may vary. While the issue taxing is a separate matter, it’s interesting that streaming platforms are finally getting a consideration in the government’s efforts. This may be a major setback in the free distribution of films in the country, but people hold different opinions and situations in this topic.

For the full excerpt of MTRCB’s classifications for film ratings, you may check the link.