Netflix has been told by Kenya’s film board to shut down its services in the country. The board says the content it offers threatens the morals and security of East African nations, says a report from Kenyan news outlet Standard Digital.
Debate over regulations that apply to Netflix
On Jan. 6, the U.S.-based video-streaming giant announced plans to expand into 130 more countries, including Kenya. Joe Mucheru, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for information communication technology, recently said that the country’s broadcasting authorities did not have the authority to regulate Netflix’s content, and before they give a ruling on whether it was suitable for Kenyan audiences or not, they must await guidance from the government.
On the other hand, the chairman of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), Jackson Kosgei, believes allowing Netflix to broadcast without being subject to local regulations means a great contravention of laws governing film and broadcast content distribution in Kenya. The KFCB had the authority to regulate broadcast and exhibited content (including content on the Internet), according to the Film and Stage Play Act.
Some of Netflix’s content puts Kenyan moral values and national security at risk, while other content was improperly classified, warned Kosgei.
“Some of the content rated 13 present classifiable elements of nudity, promotion of irresponsible sexual behavior, inappropriate language and drug abuse,” he said.
Kosgei said only the parliament has the power to suspend the law that gives his body sole regulatory authority over such material.
Netflix and YouTube fall in the same category?
Other regulators, such as the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), are of the opinion that Netflix should not be subject to local broadcasting regulations. The director general of CA, Francis Wangusi, told Business Daily Africa that Netflix falls in the same regulatory category as YouTube. Under this category, subscribers access content over the Internet, and the providers are not responsible for controlling the regulation of content.
A Netflix spokesman told Quartz that the service “empowers consumers to make smart viewing choices by providing details on the titles on Netflix, including ratings and episode synopses,” and the service also has the option of parental controls.
On Thursday, Netflix shares closed down 5% at $102.35. Year to date, the stock is down by over 10%, while in the last one year, it is up by over 112%.