Regulator says it won’t drop stand on Netflix

January 28, 2016
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Speaking to Capital News, Mutua said the Board was not in a, “popularity contest,” and called on Kenyans not to dismiss them based on other people’s opinions and before giving them, “an honest to God listening.”/file
Speaking to Capital News, Mutua said the Board was not in a, “popularity contest,” and called on Kenyans not to dismiss them based on other people’s opinions and before giving them, “an honest to God listening.”/file
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27 – Kenya Film Classification Board Chief Executive Officer Ezekiel Mutua says they will not be cowed into giving up their demand that Netflix rate their content as per Kenyan standards despite opposition from multiple quarters.

Speaking to Capital News, Mutua said the Board was not in a, “popularity contest,” and called on Kenyans not to dismiss them based on other people’s opinions and before giving them, “an honest to God listening.”

“Life is not Facebook. We’re not in office to get retweets.”

Mutua said that while they understand that Netflix provides over-the-top content and does not require to apply for a licence to stream in Kenya, it was, “parochial,” to argue that Netflix and other OTT content providers cannot and should not be regulated.

“We are not morons. We know that they are not traditional broadcasters and we don’t have anything against Netflix in particular; Hulu is coming, WhateverTV is coming, are we meant to just throw our hands up in the air and say oh well, the internet is difficult to regulate?”

He said what the Commission is demanding is, “not out of this world,” citing Singapore, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom as countries which have demanded that the Netflix show ratings be customised to their specific markets.

“Netflix content is not universal. Go and read. In fact, Canada is more conservative and they’ve rated it even more stricter than we’re trying to do here in Kenya.”

He said the Board’s position was not informed by a, “holier than thou attitude,” but by a practical concern over what impressionable minds would be exposed to.

“How Americans classify their films is not how we do it. It’s like what President Uhuru Kenyatta said about homosexuality when President Obama was around, our views are not the same. And America doesn’t always get it right. Didn’t President Obama shed tears the other day over their gun violence? How do you think that happens? You see your children murder people on their play stations and you think it’s just fun and games. It desensitises them. We are what we consume.”

Former ICT Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has accused the regulator of being unreasonable in its demands and of seeking to stifle innovation, the Communications Authority of Kenya has said Netflix is not subject to Kenyan regulation and ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has cautioned it against interfering with Netflix.

READ: Bid to regulate Internet waste of time, Ndemo says on Netflix

But the film classification board is adamant that its views should not be dismissed so quickly. “Isn’t that the nature of democracy? Isn’t trying to shut us down using Twitter hypocritical? Wasn’t it created to accommodate dissenting views? Not haze someone into adopting the populist view.”

In an effort to be heard, the Board will be advancing its views at a ‘stakeholders forum’ planned for Febuary 9.

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