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Film Censorship in Singapore

Media Development Authority


Censors with battering rams...

Singapore considers giving more film censors powers to smash down doors in the pursuit of films or videos transgressing censorship rules

Link Here 23rd December 2017
Full story: Film Censorship in Singapore...Media Development Authority
Fifty film-makers In Singapore have signed call for the authorities to reconsider proposed changes to the Films Act.

A key concern is the expanded powers that film censors of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will have in investigating breaches.

Currently, only a few IMDA officers - a censor, a deputy or assistant censor, or an inspector of films - can enter premises without a warrant, and conduct search and seizure over unlawful films, such as obscene or party political films, the paper noted.

With the changes, these powers extend to any classification or licensing officer, who may enter property by breaking doors and windows, and may do so in investigating any breach of the Films Act - not just over unlawful films.

IMDA have claimed its officers have to act quickly to secure evidence of the contraventions while minimising the chances of the suspected offender fleeing the scene. It added that its enforcement officers are adequately trained to carry out investigations in a way that stands up to scrutiny in a court of law.

Public consultation on the proposed changes is due to end on Dec 30 after two extensions. But the 50 film-makers called on IMDA to extend the consultation by another four weeks.

Other proposed amendments include a new scheme allowing some video companies to classify video titles up to a PG13 rating, and a new video games class licence.

Another proposed change gives the government minister responsible for media sole discretion - after consulting a panel - over the outcome of appeals for films that are refused classification for undermining national security. Film-makers want the current framework retained - where appeals are made to a Films Appeal Committee, consisting of citizens.



Update: Undeveloping Play Store...

Singapore bans a few films from the local version of Google's Play Store

Link Here 7th August 2015
Full story: Film Censorship in Singapore...Media Development Authority
Google's Play Store has just launched in Singapore and the country's films censors of the dishonestly named Media Development Authority decided to go on a censorial purge of films on offer.

Fifty Shades of Grey was on obvious target. It is actually rated R21 uncut but films with this rating are banned from VoD and home video.

The censors also removed  Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas , J-Lo's The Boy Next Door and Stanley Kubrick's classic A Clockwork Orange.



Update: Un.Banned...

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues unbanned in Singapore

Link Here12th January 2013
Full story: Film Censorship in Singapore...Media Development Authority

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues. is a 2012 Singapore short comedy drama family by Ken Kwek.
With Adrian Pang, Vadi Pvss and Pamela Oei. YouTube icon IMDb

The film features 3 vignettes:

  • A kindergarten principal finds a series of morbid cartoons drawn by a child.
  • Porn Masala. A porn actor struggles to rise to the occasion while filming a romantic cumedy .
  • A middle-aged nightclub bouncer faces off with a rebellious teenage stripper.

It was banned last year by Singapore film censors because of its racial humour and political incorrectness.

It has now just been given a rating of R21 after cuts following an appeal by the film's makers. This means it can be screened in cinemas to audience members aged 21 or older.

A statement by the Media Development Authority (MDA) says that the film may be screened under an Restricted 21 (R21) rating with edits , without describing what the cuts were.

The statement also mentioned that the Films Appeal Committee (FAC) took account of the public complaints arising from an online trailer containing the more controversial segments of the film, especially in regard to racial references in Porn Masala .



Update: Growing Up...Slowly...

Singapore allows R21 rated films such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to air on Video On Demand

Link Here21st October 2012
Full story: Film Censorship in Singapore...Media Development Authority

Movies rated R21 in Singapore have been made available on pay-TV in private homes for the first time.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has given the green light for StarHub and SingTel to offer R21 content on their video-on-demand platforms.

SingTel's mio TV will be now be offering R21 movies such as the crime thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), the gay-themed drama A Single Man (2009), superhero flick Watchmen (2009) and horror flick The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

Material that is rated by MDA as R21 is deemed suitable for adults aged 21 and older. Previously the highest rating for pay-TV content now was M18.

The Censorship Review Committee had recommended in its report that year that R21 content be allowed on subscription TV and video-on-demand with a strong caveat that a simple-to-use parental lock mechanism is available . It added that if R21 content is made available, the operators should lock it by default.

The Government accepted the proposal.

As to whether R21 content might be made available for sale on DVD and video, Amy Chua, MDA's director of content and standards for broadcast, Internet and publications, said:

We would like to assess how consumers view this service on video-on-demand before we think of introducing it on other platforms.


15th July

Update: TV Only Fit for 13 Year Olds...

Singapore film censor introduces a PG13 rating

A new PG13 rating covering films, television programmes and videos has just come into effect. It was one of the recommendations of the Censorship Review Committee that was accepted by the government last year.

The new PG13 rating indicates content that may not be suitable for children under 13, so parental discretion is advised. These shows have dark themes, some violence, realistic and intense horror, sexual humour and coarse language.

Some films previously rated PG (Parental Guidance) such as Dark Knight and IP Man 2 or NC16 such as Meet the Fockers will fall under the new category, but media regulator Media Development Authority said the numbers will likely be small.

PG13 will also be the maximum rating for films and dramas on free-to-air television channels, but such content will only be allowed after 10pm.

Broadcaster MediaCorp will screen the first PG13 programme on Channel 5 on July 23 on the making of the series The Walking Dead . The series, which has been edited to fit the PG13 rating.

Last year, the government agreed with the Censorship Review Committee to allow R21 films on the Video-on-Demand service on cable. The Media Development Authority said they will be introduced as soon as it has worked out implementation details, such as designing parental locks to prevent minors from sneaking a peek.


26th September

Updated: Old Rules...

Singapore censorship review committee proposes less restrictions on R21 films

R21 films may soon make their way to local cinemas as well as DVDs and pay TV, if recommendations by the Censorship Review Committee (CRC) are accepted by the Government.

The CRC report called for relaxation in content and regulation standards, given that technological changes are undermining the old ways of restricting content. With more content streaming through the Internet, the existing media regulations will become less effective. Responsibility must shift to individuals and parents, who must be empowered to make choices for themselves and for their children.

The panel, a state-appointed group of 17 people, was convened to review current censorship regulations across media such as films, videos and publications, as well as the arts. It is chaired by Goh Yew Lin, chairman of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory.

In a bold suggestion that may raise eyebrows, the panel wants R21 content to be made available on more platforms - at home and in local cinemas, the panel has recommended that videos may be sold in video stores, provided the industry can enforce the restriction of sale to minors.

It also suggests that R21 content be available on subscription TV and video-on-demand with a default parental lock.

Making a case for easing of R21 content, the committee's report said: Where consumers have the ability to exercise controlled choice, as is the case with video-on-demand, R21 content should be permitted. However, its introduction should be carefully calibrated, and only allowed if there are adequate safeguards in place to prevent access by minors .

The commitee also recommended that a new PG13 rating be introduced to 'provide a stronger signal to parents on the nature of the content and to facilitate appropriate rating of films with some mature content.

The CRC has submitted its report to Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, which is expected to respond in a month's time.

Update: Fitting in Dark Knight

26th September 2010. From , thanks to Sean

Singapore's Censorship Review Committee is recommending that the country become slightly less buttoned up and that content regulation become more pragmatic.

The committee, which spent nearly a year deliberating, recommends the introduction of a new PG-13 film classification.

Explaining the idea of a PG-13 category Vijay Chandra, chairman of the Films Consultative Panel, said that The Dark Knight was rated PG, meaning that even primary school age children could watch it, although its violence may have upset parents. However, he said that an NC-16 rating would have been unwarranted.

As a consequence of the result of a PG-13 rating being introduced, Chandra said that the average PG film would then become milder and more innocuous.

In total the committee made some 80 recommendations including dropping the word censorship from the title of future review committees to the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. The ministry is expected to respond within a month.


25th September

Censorship by Committee...

Singapore reviews its censorship policies

Singapore's government has appointed 17 people from various fields to sit on a committee that has been tasked with updating policies on censorship of the media and the arts.

Goh Yew Lin, chairman of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music is the chairman of the Censorship Review Committee (CRC).

Sixteen others representing a cross-section of the society have been appointed as members of the committee. They include people from the arts and media sector; the community and social sector; and various professions, said a statement from the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts.

The independent committee has been set up to conduct a mid-term review of content issues across the spectrum of broadcast, films, videos, publications, audio materials, the arts and new media.

It will look largely at issues that have been raised by the industry players during their regular dialogues with the Media Development Authority and from community feedback. These include the fine-tuning of current film and video classifications; sale and distribution of videos; and content issues related to entertainment and lifestyle publications.

The review will also examine how media convergence is testing traditional content regulation concepts and whether new content codes are necessary to guide the emergence of new technologies and new media platforms.

The terms of reference of the committee are:

  • To recommend refinements to existing content standards and guidelines to reflect societal and technological changes since the last CRC, while recognising the need to protect the young and respect racial, religious and social sensitivities.
  • To study whether there is a need to introduce additional content standards and guidelines that would be relevant to the emergence of new technologies and new media platforms.
  • To recommend ways to encourage industry players, community and artists to be involved in co-regulation of media content and classification.
  • To recommend avenues to improve community engagement and public education in content standards and guidelines.

The committee will target to complete the review and submit its report and recommendations to the Government by mid-2010.

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