South Africa’s Film and Publication Board (FPB) is getting ready to do battle with Netflix, reportedly giving the US streaming media service two weeks to comply with local regulations or face sanctions. But a top lawyer has warned that the FPB could be acting “extra-legally” in making the demand.
Kenyan website Standard Digital has reported that FPB chief operating officer Sipho Risiba has slapped licensing fees on Netflix that the video-on-demand provider has not yet paid.
Risiba made the remarks in Nairobi this week, where he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Film Commission. The commission has also sought to regulate Netflix in the Kenyan market.
“We are emboldened by this progress from our brothers and the same initiatives have been seen in Indonesia where Netflix has been asked besides these fees to open an office and have Indonesians employed,” Kenya Film Commission CEO Ezekiel Mutua is quoted as having said.
The website quoted Risiba as saying that the FPB has given Netflix the option of having its employees trained by South Africa to bring them up to speed on the local regulations.
Any attempt by the Film and Publication Board to levy this fee should be resisted. I do not believe it is a lawful demand
“Our values are different from the American values and their 16-year-old is not necessarily our 16-year-old and that’s why they must re-rate the films in conformity with our standards,” he reportedly said.
TechCentral could not immediately reach Risiba on his mobile phone for comment.
However, ICT sector lawyer Dominic Cull warned that that FPB is acting “extra-legally”, or beyond the scope of the law, in attempting to regulate online content providers without a legislative framework in place.
He said the board is demanding up to R750 000 — soon rising to R795 000 — from these companies and they are getting little or nothing of value in return.
“Any attempt by the Film and Publication Board to levy this fee should be resisted. I do not believe it is a lawful demand,” Cull said.
He said that if the FPB wants to regulate online content distributors like Netflix, it must first get the necessary legislative amendments through parliament. Currently, he said, there is no definition in the Films and Publications Act of an online content distributor. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media