Many a child and his/her parents go to the cinema expecting to enjoy a kiddie motion picture or animated film, but are momentarily “trapped” into watching movie trailers clearly meant for adult consumption. But hopefully, that will now be a thing of the past.
In a step meant to make movie houses safe for the youngest viewers, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board has issued Memorandum Circular 04-2015 calling for “age-appropriate and audience-sensitive trailers and other promotional materials.” Signed by MTRCB chair Eugenio Villareal and issued on June 18, the memorandum acknowledges the need “to revisit the rules on the review and classification of publicity materials, most especially trailers exhibited in movie theaters, so that parents and other responsible adults are provided adequate information as to the kind of content children will see in such materials.”
The memorandum specifies that trailers with a “PG” (parental guidance) rating may be shown only with movies rated PG, R-13, R-16, or R-18. The trailers are required to feature an advisory, displayed for at least three seconds, indicating whether it is rated “G” (general patronage) or PG. When evaluating trailers, the MTRCB will consider the following elements: theme, violence, language, nudity, sex, horror and drugs. Violations will merit anything from a P50,000 fine to the revocation of the movie house’s permits. On the other hand, trailers with a G rating may be shown prior to, or with, any motion picture regardless of the latter’s rating.
All these new requirements highlight the responsibility that the MTRCB is taking in the protection of child viewers. In 2012, the board, then chaired by Grace Poe, now a senator, sponsored a summit of regulators, government officials and network executives with an eye toward making sure that TV shows are appropriate for the children watching them. In her opening remarks, Poe underscored the important but secondary role of the MTRCB: “No amount of government legislation or initiative will ever be enough if parents do not take on the primary role of protecting their children. In our classification campaign, we remind viewers: Ang tamang gabay ay naguumpisa sa bahay (The correct guidance begins at home). We can lay the groundwork for child protection but, ultimately, it is the parents’ informed judgment that counts most.”
In this space, the Inquirer lauded the holding of the summit: “Now the MTRCB is opening the curtains to a summit that the industry really needs, a summit that will protect the small wonders of screen and TV that Filipinos so love. It’s a move that deserves to be rated A.”
A year later, Villareal led what is now called the Family and Child Summit as the MTRCB continued in its watchdog role. Later in 2013, it focused on “disturbing scenes” in the very popular Sunday comedy show “Goin’ Bulilit,” where child actors regularly performed what appeared to be material more suited for older performers.
“The Ryzza Mae Show” also came under the spotlight as this similarly widely-viewed program had the network’s pint-sized wunderkind interviewing adults, leading to a discussion of topics that were too mature for her. The MTRCB called on the TV network bosses to be extra-sensitive to the content being shown during kid-friendly hours, and to work with the Departments of Labor and Employment and of Social Welfare and Development in ensuring that child talents work the proper hours allowed by law.
While the MTRCB is occasionally called to task for overreaching (its actions against British actor Rowan Atkinson in the TV show “Mr. Bean” seemed a bit much), it has been especially vigilant and sensitive to how big a part TV and movies play in our lives. Again in this space, the Inquirer noted: “That television has taken on the all-important role of ‘babysitter’ ought to ring alarm bells, especially because some parents essentially trust its content as not only safe but perhaps even good for their kids.”
It is fortunate that the MTRCB is keeping an eye out for the children, be it at home in front of their TV sets and in the cinemas, just before a movie starts. In this digital age, it should continue to help inspire parents and guardians to constantly be aware of what their children are watching.
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