Netflix, a US-based internet streaming TV rolled out its services globally in more than 130 countries. It was introduced in the Kenyan market at the beginning of this year.
The Kenya Film Classification Board however says that content being distributed online by Netflix is immoral. Speaking just two weeks after it was rolled out, the board through the chairman Jackson Kosgei said the film content being streamed by the provider fails to conform to national values, ratings, and classifications regulations. Speaking in a press briefing on 20th January 21, 2016, the chairman said, “The board notes with great concern that the films being circulated on Netflix’s platforms are classified and rated on the basis of guidelines enforced in other jurisdictions, and which are totally at odds with Kenya’s regulatory standards.” “The pornography, child prostitution and massive violence themes in some of the movies threaten our moral values.”
Netflix, which was established in 1997 started its subscription-based service in 1999. As of January 2016, they reported that they had 74 million subscribers, including 44 million in the U.S.
The KFCB which has been mandated to classify films for public exhibition may find it hard to block Netflix as it is internet based and Kenya may not have the capacity to regulate internet content.
The ICT ministry has however opened discussions on how best to regulate firms classified as Over The Top (OTT).
Like Netflix, YouTube classified as an OTT also operates in Kenya but has been hard to regulate. Kenya has no laws that govern services such as Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp which are also OTT services.
Francis Wangusi, the director-general of the Communication Authority though said that Netflix was not a traditional broadcaster but rather an online one. He said that the online sites do not require licenses to operate in Kenya where there is no internet censorship and the platform is largely free.