‘All producers must apply for licence’

PETALING JAYA: The government has no intention of using the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) Act 1981 to restrict Malaysians from uploading their videos on social media, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) says following confusion over his earlier statement on the issue.

The Communications and Multimedia Minister said Malaysians had misinterpreted his response to Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi in Parliament yesterday where he said all filming including those on social media required a licence.

The Indera Mahkota MP said it is compulsory for producers of these films to apply for a Film Production Licence and Film Shooting Certificate (SSP) regardless if they are from a mainstream media outlet or personal media.

Later, in a statement, Saifuddin explained that when the Act was passed in 1981, social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube did not exist and said the law needed to be updated.

“I explained in a press conference in my 100-day report card on June 20 that the ministry is assessing all the laws that come under it.

“We are open to suggestions to improve all these laws and not just the ones debated in Parliament to be relevant with the times, ” he said.

Saifuddin’s comments earlier came under heavy criticism from social media users who felt that it was absurd for them to obtain a licence to upload videos to those platforms, especially when they had been doing so without one.

His response then came after Finas accused Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera of not having the proper licence to produce its documentary Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown aired this month.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia came to Al Jazeera’s defence, saying that local and foreign broadcasters never had an issue when producing news documentaries in the past.

On Sunday, Saifuddin also said his ministry would check if the controversial documentary on the broadcaster’s 101 East segment was licensed by Finas before it began production.

Earlier yesterday, Saifuddin noted that Finas issues three types of licences to the film industry to produce, distribute and broadcast films or videos.

“Referring to Section 22 (1) of the Finas Act, it reads that no one can take part in any activities to produce, distribute or broadcast any films unless a licence is issued to the person, ” the minister said in reply to Wong Shu Qi (PH-Kluang) during the Ministerial Question Time in Dewan Rakyat.

Wong had asked Saifuddin to state if all those who film will be compelled to apply for a Production Licence and SSP.

In her supplementary question, Wong had asked the minister on the exact definition of film, and if this would affect people who use social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Saifuddin added that the government encouraged everyone, individuals or organisations, to produce any form of films.

“However, it must be according to the law, ” he said.

He also said that according to the Finas Act, licence holders who want to film need to inform the corporation at least seven days before shooting through a special form issued by Finas.

Meanwhile, Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) expressed worry over Saifuddin’s earlier remarks, saying that they could mean that all social media users are now required to have a Finas licence.

“Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook Live or TikTok, everyone may be affected according to the minister’s interpretation.

“Many will ask whether they will be compelled to follow the minister’s interpretation of the law whenever they post videos on social media, ” he told a press conference at Parliament.

Fahmi pointed out that in order to acquire a Finas licence, an applicant will require a paid-up capital of RM50,000.

“For MPs who always do Facebook live, are we now compelled to have a Finas licence?” he asked.

In response to Saifuddin’s earlier remarks, MCA too called for a rethink of the licence requirement to post videos on social media platforms.

Its central committee member Datuk Chew Kok Woh said it is not possible to enforce such a law, and that Finas should not be burdened with such a requirement.

He also noted that most of the hundreds of thousands of personal videos posted each day by Malaysians are personal in nature and to be shared among friends and their followers.

Chew urged the government to drop the requirement, adding that if there is a need for such a licence, then it should be confined only to TV stations which have commercial interests.

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