Kenya Seeks Discussion on Ratings As Netflix Expands
U.S.-based digital streaming giant Netflix is expanding its international presence, launching service to 130 countries in January, but Kenyan officials, one of these new markets, are questioning if the new Internet content is suitable, at least with its current ratings system.
Earlier this week, Kenya’s Film Classification Board, the organization tasked with regulating film and broadcast content in the country, said Netflix had not been granted a license before it began operating and that they would like to have discussions with the company about how better to rate its content for the Kenyan audience.
Ezekiel Mutua, chief operating officer of the KFCB, said that it would be irresponsible of Kenyan authorities to not concern themselves with this issue.
“Here, we have not gotten very far because they have just started streaming on this side of the world, and we have just started this conversation,” Mutua said. “How would it look like if we just kept quiet and said, ‘anything goes, Internet you can’t regulate.’ Why not have the conversations?”
Mutua said the primary focus of a conversation is whether the current Netflix ratings system is appropriate for Kenyans; specifically, children.
The KFCB released a statement saying, “It will be against our mandate to allow our children to get ruined by inappropriate content in the name of profit” and that Kenya could not afford to be “a passive recipient of foreign content that could corrupt the moral values of our children.”
Mutua said the KFCB does not want to infringe upon privacy and adults can make their own choices, but that his organization’s primary concern is protecting minors.
“There’s a possibility that a parent would base his decision on the wrong ratings, the ratings are American, they are not Kenyan, they are not African, and therefore there is that possibility,” Mutua said. “And to the extent that there’s a possibility, we as a regulator believe we have the right to raise these concerns.”
He added that there is also a security component for unregulated online streaming access, which terror groups and criminal organizations are also able to utilize.
“We are only calling for measures to ensure that our cyberspace is safe, th