Tibaldo: Understanding optical media and movie regulations

WITH the rapid changes in mass media and the way we access and utilize various entertainment and communication devices today, I find it noteworthy to look back and review the laws that governs these systems.

The Optical Media Board, formerly known as the Videogram Regulatory Board, is a national agency under the Office of the President responsible for regulating the production, use and distribution of recording media such as compact disks (CD). These include the various storage media that holds content or data in digital form that are written and read by a laser like VCD, DVD and Blu-Ray variations.

According to the Optical Media Act of 2003, the OMB shall formulate and implement policies and programs necessary for the accomplishment of the purposes of the act such as to evaluate the qualifications of any individual, establishment or other entity to engage in the mastering, manufacture or replication of optical media.

The OMB requires persons to substantiate their capability to engage in said activities, supervise, regulate, grant, or renew licenses for specific periods. Said office can also deny, suspend, or cancel said licenses subject to conditions as it may impose. The 2003 act also empowers OMB to conduct inspections by itself or in coordination with other competent agencies at any time with or without prior notice to establishments engaged in the sale and release of optical media.

We have observed news coverage where OMB conducts spot inspections and confiscations of unregulated DVDs and it is part of their duty to employ reasonable force in the event that the responsible person or persons of such establishment or entity evades, obstructs, or refuses such inspection. The OMB can likewise act as complainant, hear and resolve administrative cases against violators and impose administrative sanctions including, but not limited to, the imposition of fines and penalties.

For the more popular television programs, movies and home videos, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board or MTRCB is the appropriate government office that is responsible for its classification and review of television.

The MTRCB is under the Office of the President headed by a Board composed of a Chairperson who works full-time, Vice-Chairperson and 30 members that serves in an ex-officio capacity. As mandated under existing laws, the MTRCB serves as a regulatory body responsible for the review and classification of motion pictures, television programs and similar shows shown to the public. Said office is also tasked to initiate plans and cooperate with the movie and television industry to improve, upgrade and make viable the industry as one source of fueling the national economy.

The MTRCB also covers the nationwide regulation of theaters, television stations and registration of business-related entities that screens motion pictures. Said office also covers the screening, review, examination and classification according to audience suitability of all motion pictures including publicity materials, such as advertisements, trailers and stills for theatrical and non-theatrical distribution. In addition is the supervision and regulation of the importation and exportation of films and prosecution and imposition of administrative sanctions to violators of Presidential Decree 1986.

The Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) is a body of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) tasked with grading Filipino films by quality. The CEB was established in 2003, succeeding the Film Ratings Board (FRB) which became defunct in early 2002. Like its predecessor, it gives tax rebates to films depending on their grading but unlike the FRB, the CEB's powers to give tax rebates is mandated by law.

Recently, the much awaited movie by Mike De Leon was shown in Baguio for a three day-screening. I watched Citizen Jake starred by television journalist Atom Araullo who played Jacobo Herrera or Jake. The movie mirrors the dark side of Philippine politics, societal differences and corruption in the system. The movie is about defiance, betrayal and revealing truth as Jake uncovers the system’s flaws and evils that includes his very own.

Set in Baguio City as the main location of the story, it gives movie goers a glimpse of how a former American hill station evolved into a tourism destination that also shows traces of Marcos influence. I met Director Mike De Leon shortly after the screening seemingly observing the reactions of the viewers. In our short talk, we discussed how movie viewership differed from decades ago. The director expressed hope that films such as CJ continue to be patronized by the wider Filipino audience.

I was invited by Caroline Tibayan to the house of Direk Mike De Leon at Gibraltar Road for a late afternoon chit-chat and I was the first to arrive. I was joined by the Pony Boys of Wright Park with Scott Madon Jr. who played a bit role in the movie.

We talked basically about Baguio’s present condition and nothing much about Citizen Jake. It appeared to me that Direk Mike wanted to do one more film and it is likely to be a documentary about the early settlers of the mountain city and how it is has evolved throughout the years. I was impressed at how Direk Mike consistently dwelt on subjects like the pony boys and how alcoholism affects them. My 1990 earthquake photographs is actually digitally archived by De leon’s production firm and it would have been part of a montage but did not make it to the final cut of the film. Direk Mike said that they will upload the deleted scenes in the near future perhaps for a director’s cut version similar others notable films that had splices required to conform to certain genres and audience types. As for me, I also look forward to making an art film that may not necessarily hit the big screen and turn out to be a blockbuster but I want to again exploit film as a medium of storytelling that encompasses the other art forms like music, dance, literature, architecture, painting, sculpture and celluloid arts that is now migrating into digital art forms.


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