Regulators move to censor Netflix in Kenya

by | Feb 2, 2016

When the US-based on-demand streaming service, Netflix unexpectedly announced its expansion into 130 countries, including Nigeria, speculations regarding whether or not it spelled the demise of local players ran rife. Nigeria’s own iROKOtv wasn’t spared in this battle of comparison, prompting the CEO himself, Jason Njoku to openly dispel the claims.

Nevertheless, Netflix has continued to cruise in its own lane, oblivious of any possible competition. In Kenya however, Netflix appears to have run into a different kind of opposition at the hands of the country’s regulators. The Kenyan Film Classification Board (KFCB), through some of its representatives, claims that Netflix is contributing to the country’s moral decline.

According to Quartz Africa, KFCB chairman, Jackson Kosgei said, “The board regards this development as a gross contravention of the laws governing film and broadcast content distribution in Kenya,”. He added that Kenya could not afford to be a “passive recipient of foreign content that could corrupt the moral values of our children.”

Consequently, the KFCB is demanding to censor its content according to Kenyan standard.

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Netfix in its own defense said  “Netflix is an Internet television network, not a traditional broadcaster. Services delivered over the Internet present all sorts of novel questions for policymakers. To watch anything on Netflix, consumers have to subscribe. We empower consumers to make smart viewing choices by providing details on the titles on Netflix, including ratings and episode synopses. We also provide parental control.”

Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO, Ezekiel Mutua said the Board will not cower into giving up its demand that Netflix rate its content according to Kenyan standards despite opposition from multiple quarters. He told Capital News: “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 also added that, “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.”

The Board is however planning to hold a ‘stakeholders forum’ on the 9th of February 2016 to discuss the pros and cons of regulating such services.

Shortly after its global expansion, Netflix moved to eliminate geoblocking, in a bid to prevent users accessing content not meant for their regions.

Ifeanyi Ndiomewese
Ifeanyi Ndiomewese

Ifeanyi is a desk reporter-turned administrator. Outside of work, I love to read and travel.

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