October 2, 2020
Grace Poe’s Transcript Portion on MTRCB/ABS-CBN
MTRCB budget hearing
Sen. Grace Poe: Okay, so in 2019, you were given P90 million but you actually remitted P136 million.
MTRCB Executive Chair Ann Nemenzo: That’s correct, Madam Chair.
Poe: And every year, I mean ever since I can remember taking over also, we’ve actually remitted more than the government has given sa MTRCB, hindi ba? Ngayon na, well, obviously pandemic, so they are not producing that many films, ‘di ba? And then another thing is, what is your estimate with the loss of one network, like ABS-CBN? How much are you predicting that you are probably losing already or will continue to lose in terms of revenue in the coming months?
MTRCB Chair Rachel Arenas: Madame chair, it would be about 40 percent.
Poe: So 40 percent ng income ninyo, actually galing sa ABS-CBN?
Arenas: Yes, and also because of the pandemic now, mas konti po ‘yung nagpapa-review, even ‘yung sa mga movies and ‘yung mga network mas konti ang pinapa-review nila kaya talagang mababa po ‘yung aming income this year.
Poe: Maybe I can ask you to submit later on, to do an estimate based on the fees paid by ABS-CBN, the averages in the past three years, okay, para makita na natin ‘yung forecast in the coming year. Kasi, siyempre mababawasan ‘yan kahit papa’no. So, if you have that data now maybe you can submit it. If not, will just ask.
Arenas: We will submit it, Madame Chair.
Sen. Imee Marcos: Inevitably you’re going to lose lots of reviewing fees, is there any way to make up the amount? Are there any plans for outdoor showing and the carpark cinema that we hear about these days?
Arenas: Ngayon po nagsisimula na pong magbukas. May dalawang drive-through cinemas ang SM. So unti-unti nang nagbubukas ‘yung mga cinemas and hopefully by December magsisimula nang magbukas ‘yung mga cinemas, accoriding to them, in the provinces. So siguro it would pick up by the end of the year and we are also coordinating with other agencies para matulungan din ‘yung industriya the little way that we can like, itong nakaraan, mga GCQ and ECQ, we gave them ‘yung palugit sa kanilang pag-register kasi we know what they’re going through and inaasahan ho naman sa last quarter, itong patungong Pasko, mas mag-pick up po ‘yung magpapa-review sa amin, mag-pick up po ang industriya.
Marcos: …I think what I’m asking is your capacity to monitor because it’s always being questioned because on television, some materials considered as salacious by educators have come out on lunchtime television. So what is the capacity of MTRCB to really monitor everything that is on TV and even in transport, for example in buses to the provinces, the marina and all the different boats that cross the islands as well as the airlines?
Arenas: We inspect also the buses, we do surprise inspections. In fact, we also have seminars with them to tell them that these are the materials that are only allowed in the buses. But we have also caught a few that they have their own USB [where] they put their own pirated films also and that are beyond what is allowed in the buses. So we do inspections about four times a year in the terminals.
Marcos:…It was a surprise to hear that someone from MTRCB is claiming he also reviews online materials.
Arenas: Before I answer that, Madam senator, for the cable channels, we do post-monitoring that’s why we rely really a lot on our viewers because they’re the one who report to us, email to us, they call us. Going to your question regarding the online, actually, du’n po sa mandate ng MTRCB, it says that everything that is shown, regardless of equipment, regardless of platform…although as I said in some of the interviews that it could be questioned also or challenged because at that time there was no internet in 1985. During the hearing of the committee on trade, the head of our legal, Atty. Presquito was quoted in saying that we will review that online. Actually, it’s been two years, Madam senator, that we have been closely talking with our video providers, they’re the ones asking what law they should follow. Sila ‘yung nagtatanong sa amin kung ano ‘yung kailangan nilang sundin but we told them at that time that we will make first our guidelines, to give us time because it’s quite difficult talaga. I mean, it’s a problem all over the world to really monitor all the video on demand providers but we told them first before, can you register with us and then we asked them, are you willing to align to our classification and they were very much amenable to do that. But then we are still working on a draft. It hasn’t been finished yet, Madam senator.
Marcos: That’s fair, it’s simply impossible to monitor everything online now and how you’re going to do it is a mystery to me. Actually, I was very perplexed kung papaano itatax ang Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and all these other service providers because we can’t even monitor them…You mentioned the mandate, the MTRCB is one of two agencies set up to self-destruct…I’m wondering, after 35 years, is self-monitoring, self-regulation still a desired, and a plausible goal. And if so, are we taking any steps toward that direction?
Arenas: We actually encourage self-regulation with the networks also. We tell them that if they feel that the episode, for example, in a teleserye that they’re going to show would be an SPG that they should automatically do an SPG but the ratings cannot go down. Going back to the online, we were asking them, hinihiling lang naman namin sa kanila before was to adapt to our ratings. We’re not going to review all videos on demand. We’re going to do a co-regulation. But again, of course we haven’t done the public consultation and the draft wasn’t finished so it’s yet on the table.
Marcos: Do we see the MTRCB and censorship in the Philippines disappearing any time soon?
Arenas: To be fair, we feel that the maturity is not yet there, that ‘s the reason why, actually the “Matalinong Panonood” was the program of Senator Grace and we are slowly seeing the effects of it now. We don’t have offices all over the country so it’s very difficult. So the Matalinong Panonood is really, really important to us but we can’t do it now because the only way that we can tell the viewers how important the ratings and the effect of it to their children if and when they don’t really take the G or PG or SPG or the rating seriously.
Marcos: Sa palagay ninyo, hindi na magse-self-destruct ang MTRCB?
Arenas: Sa palagay ko, sa mga susunod na dekada, hindi pa.
Marcos: Kasi medyo mataas ang requirement: maturity, self-reliance of the industry, dependability. Nandoon ‘yun lahat sa charter…
Poe: In reaction to Senators Marcos’s comments about self-destruction, sadly, self-destruction I think is giving way, as we mentioned, allowing the people to do self-regulation. On the other hand, I agree also with the Chairman, at this point we still need to do a lot…but we’ve already started. I’m glad that you have these forums, that you go all over the country to explain to the audience, to the young ones in particular, how the rating system works. And in fact, parents are partners in this. Kasi, ‘yung mga magulang talaga, dapat binabantayan kung ano pinapanood ng mga bata. And when we talk about online content, it will be impossible to monitor all of that. Kaya at most, maybe just, a memorandum of agreement in deference to the audience in the Philippines kasi, you watch Netflix, meron silang sarili nilang ano eh, US-based like 18 plus, meron silang mga age na nakalagay. I think naman it makes sense that their ratings system is somewhat like ours. But again, we really need to move forward, towards self-regulation, as we said, na hindi na kailangan ang review. I don’t know in the near future. But, maybe one of the things we can do is actually amend the laws of the MTRCB so that we can clarify the online content. Kasi, it’s a really gray area, it’s anything that is shown in the Philippines, ‘di ba, when you think about it. So maybe, if we amend a certain provision ther that will make it clearer what are the responsibilities of online content and if we will allow them autonomy—that should be written down there.
Poe: Attorney Nemenzo, maybe you can talk to the admin office and tell us what the contribution was of ABS-CBN in terms of fees last year. Basta ABS-CBN, ‘wag mo munang isama ‘yung Star Cinema kasi hindi naman sila kasama diyan. So maybe you can give us that submission within this hearing.
Nemenzo: We have actually prepared already, Madam senator. For 2019, what was remitted by ABS-CBN was P22,747,629.50.
Poe: And your earning for 2018 was how much?
Nemenzo: Unfortunately we were only able to pull up 2019 but this already includes their DTP channels.
Poe: How much were your earnings in 2019? MTRCB?
Nemenzo: P136 million.
Poe: Okay, so P22 million ‘yung sa ABS. How about ‘yung sa Star Cinema nila?
Nemenzo: That we have to pull up.
Poe: We are very supportive of you (MTRCB), Madam chair, in fact, I understand you’re in a quandary with regards also to the outdated law and the new technologies. But I think the DGPI, the Directors’ Guild, gave a good statement that these contents have already been, especially big companies like Netflix, these contents have been reviewed by their respective places of origin, the governments there, and I think when I look at it, somehow, it’s really good. The problem is really monitoring within the home, ‘yun naman talaga ‘yung ano natin, ‘di ba, we educate them. So we wish you continued success, even with all the challenges that you have now, especially the entertainment industry, isa sa pinakamalaking dagok ‘yan… ang daming nawawalan ng trabaho ngayon at talagang nakakalungkot. Mabuti na lang, meron nang mga outdoor cinemas, drive-in cinemas so hopefully that will spur more income for the industry. With that, let us, help us amend the laws on the MTRCB to make it more relevant and to make it more realistic moving forward.