Minister apologises for Finas licensing rule for social media videos


Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah openly apologised to social media practitioners today over his recent statement in Parliament regarding the Malaysian National Film Development Corporation (Finas) licensing issue.

“As a minister, I should apologise, because when I replied about the issue in the Dewan Rakyat on July 23, I did so in a very straightforward manner. Apparently, politicians cannot be straight, when one is straight, he gets hammered.”

However, he said the matter was discussed in the Cabinet the next day, which decided the public could freely use platforms such as Youtube and Tik Tok to upload content.

“Don’t worry, no action will be taken. That freedom is fully guaranteed.”

Saifuddin made the apology while officiating the Southern Zone Youtube and Community Cinema Skills Worskshop at the Iskandar Malaysia Studios here, today.

He was then greeted with thunderous applause and cheers by more than 200 attendees at the event including popular Youtubers Mat Dan and Tuah Adzmi.

The two were among several Youtube celebrities invited as panelists in the two-day programme, which began today.

Organised by Finas, the programme aims to expose young talent to the latest media to generate income.

On July 23, Saifuddin became a hot topic for netizens when he reportedly said it was mandatory for producers – including on new media such as Youtube – to apply for a Film Production Licence and Filming Authentication Certificate, for distributing films via traditional channels or social media platforms.

His statement invited criticism from various quarters, especially the younger generation, who form the majority of users on social media.

He further stressed the importance of self-regulation in the film industry, saying laws are unlikely to keep pace with rapid technological developments.

As such, local art practitioners should adopt the self-regulatory approach – especially with regard to the new media like YouTube to generate income, he said.

“I believe that apart from having regulations and laws gazetted by the government in Parliament, it is equally important to have an assurance of the widest freedom (possible) requiring art and culture practitioners to practise what is called self-regulation.

“Actually, this self-regulatory aspect is bigger than the regulations and laws gazetted by the government. We should remember that the worlds of film and technology are expanding extensively. Laws cannot possibly keep up with technological developments.

“Therefore, you can see that we are now stressing the anti-fake news campaign as it is part of the self-regulatory aspect.”

He was asked to comment on calls by Gabung Anak Seni president Ellie Suriati Omar for the government to impose licensing requirements on YouTube channel owners, purportedly to protect the rights and interests of the local film industry from this group which is out to reap personal profits.

Saifuddin said the government is amending the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) Act 1981 but the process would take time.

“But we will gather the relevant experts including those producing short videos in this process.”

Saifuddin also said the ministry is cooperating with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to form a Task Force on the Creative Industry soon, which would be tasked with helping the local creative industry expand in line with rapid technological developments.

– Bernama