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Kenya film board protests decision not to regulate Netflix

By Graham Kajilwa | January 21st 2016

NAIROBI: The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has protested the Government's directive not to have online video streaming provider Netflix subjected to the country's regulations.

The content regulator claimed the new Information Communication Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru contravened the law by directing regulating agencies to keep off the American film service.

Mr Mucheru claimed that the country does not have proper laws to regulate over-the-top (OTT) service providers in a manner that would not compromise the business environment.

Insisting that they have the sole mandate to regulate and classify broadcasters' content both local and international, Board Chairman Jackson Kosgei threatened to have Netflix barred from streaming in Kenya if they did not comply.

"This is great contravention of laws governing film and broadcast content distribution in Kenya, which has put at risk our moral values and national security. The medium of transmission, notwithstanding all content whether local or foreign, must be regulated," said Mr Kosgei yesterday at his office.

He claimed the films being circulated on Netflix platforms are classified and rated on basis and guidelines of other jurisdictions, which do not conform to local standards.

"Some of the content rated 13 presents classifiable elements of nudity, promotion of irresponsible sexual behaviour, inappropriate language and drug abuse," he added.

Earlier the Communication Authority of Kenya said Netflix was exempted from local broadcasting regulations because they are an OTT service provider.

Under the Films and Stage Play Act, the board has authority to regulate broadcast and exhibition of content and its mandate encompasses cyberspace.

"The law is very clear and cannot be suspended by anyone else unless Parliament steps in. We are not out to sabotage businesses, if anything, we support investment in the ICT sector," Kosgei said.

Kosgei alluded that the board's persistence on Netflix should be welcome as it would also be protecting local broadcasters who are already subjected to the law.

The pay-per-view broadcaster entered the Kenyan market as part of its drive to invest in over 130 countries earning it over 75 million subscribers in its forth quarter earnings of 2015.

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