Thursday, October 4, 2012

Filmmakers: Why must we go to KL for a complaint?

Abu Bakar Elah.
Kota Kinabalu: Local filmmakers are grieving over the prevalence of copyright piracy in the State and the monopoly of peninsula-based media productions on Astro's Channel 180.

Both issues were discussed in a dialogue between local filmmakers and State strategic players at the Grand Borneo Hotel, Monday.

Present were the Film Censorship Control and Enforcement Secretary Razak Drahman, Home Affairs Ministry (KPDNKK) Asst Enforcement Officer Hasim Mohamad, member of Film Censorship Board (Astro) Fauzi Abduri and Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Compliance and Monitoring Director Aly Shaharom.

Local filmmakers complained of too much bureaucracy in reporting a copyright piracy case to the right department.

"Why do we have to go to Kuala Lumpur in order to report this? Why can't we do it here locally? It is expensive to produce a telemovie, then we are asked to go all the way to Kuala Lumpur just to report when someone steals our productions," said local artiste Abu Bakar Elah.

They also suspect a syndicate is behind the activity and worry that should anybody dare to report the crime, the syndicate will target that person. Other participants also urged not to wait for producers to make reports before any action is taken. "Why can't the enforcement just arrest these perpetrators when they see them selling pirated stuff?"

Abu Bakar complained about the price of the hologram and label required for every CD or DVD produced to indicate the authenticity of the media production. "Even before we put our products in the market, we already have to pay for these.

Since we have already paid for them, the Government should be able to guarantee that our creative production would not fall victim to this crime," he said.

The process of requesting for the hologram and label also needs to go through the National Film Development Corporation (Finas). "This also takes time. Why can't we have our own centre here to apply for these things locally? It will definitely speed up the process.

Once, when I called asking about my order, the person I talked to was very rude," reported Masnah, another local filmmaker.

Commenting on the issues, Razak admitted that the piracy problem is getting out of hand. "It is not easy to curb this activity. The Ministry also has very limited enforcement staff. Therefore, we ask that those who suspect that their production had fallen prey to this activity immediately report the matter to us," said Razak.

However, he advised that police always accompany any enforcement operations. He assured participants protection under the law. "If you feel threatened, make a police report. We have laws, and I am sure the police will give you full cooperation," said Razak.

Regarding the price of hologram and label, Ministry Assistant Enforcement Officer Hasim Mohamad said he would bring the matter to a meeting soon and look into the possibility of reducing the price. Currently, CD/VCD/DVD produced costs the producer RM1.10 each.

On the second issue, the participants complained that the Astro Channel 180 or TVi is being monopolised by production houses from the peninsula although it was promised to be a channel that will become a platform for production houses in Sabah and Sarawak.

"Look, they have TV1, TV2, TV3 and all other channels to monopolise.

Why would they intrude this channel too? How can we express our own arts if the only place we can count on will not let us do it?" they complained.

The participants said that the proposal to grant Sabah and Sarawak only 40 per cent of airtime is ridiculous. "If you said it's 40 per cent, then only 20 per cent for Sabah and the other 20 per cent for Sarawak. At least, give us 80 or 90 per cent," they said.

They also hope the channel is made available free for Sabah and Sarawak viewers. That way, they argued, all people in Sabah and Sarawak will be able to watch this channel just like they can watch TV1 and TV2 for free.

Speaking on behalf of Astro, Aly said that he will bring the matter to Astro's attention in their coming meeting. "I understand how you feel. It is true, the quota for peninsula-based production houses is too big. I will discuss the best way to slowly lessen the number of programmes originating from the peninsula and to increase the number originating from Sabah and Sarawak.

Other issues raised were the bias towards some political parties of some news contents and the choice of movies screened during prime time.

The participants also questioned the absence of Finas in the dialogue. "The last time we had this dialogue, most of the problems we raised were related to Finas. So it is quite disheartening that Finas is not here today, as if they are just turning a blind eye to our problems," said Abu Bakar.

The half-day dialogue attracted more than 100 participants consisting of mainly local artists, filmmakers and business owners.

No comments: