Friday, December 21, 2007

Film ratings law passes National Legislative Assembly

The Film and Video Act has passed the National Legislative Assembly, Kong Rithdee, writing for Variety reports. The law includes a complex new ratings system:
  • P - films that are of educational value and should be promoted for Thai audiences
  • G - fit for all age groups
  • Under 13 not admitted
  • Under 15 not admitted
  • Under 18 not admitted
  • Under 20 not admitted
Additionally, under the law, the government has the power to ban films that "undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or that might impact national security or the pride of the nation".

Also, note that though there had been talk of an "under 24" rating, it is not part of the final law.

In addition to bureaucrats, the chief of the national police will sit on the ratings board, with apparently no representation for the film industry.

The film ratings system replaces the 1930 Film Act, under which films are censored to make the content fit for all ages. But the censorship was never applied evenly, and was toughest on depictions of sex and nudity. Violence and coarse language generally got a pass.

How and when the law will actually be implemented remains in question, and another law will have to be passed that governs the operation of the ratings system.

The Free Thai Cinema Movement had been lobbying since April to give filmmakers a voice in the law, and wipe out the censorship-and-ban provision, to no avail.

The Film and Video Act was passed on the back of the even-more-controversial Internal Security Operations Command measure, which empowers the military to order curfews, curb the powers of elected officials, possibly censor the Internet and listen in on phone conversations.

The laws were hastily passed in the final days of the National Legislative Assembly, a body appointed by the military that took over the government in a coup on September 19, 2006. After a general electon on Sunday, the Parliament would be filled with elected representatives.

For the past two weeks, non-governmental organization activists led by Jon Ungpakorn have been protesting outside Parliament House, calling on the junta's rubber-stamp lawmakers to stop passing laws. At one point last week, the activists succeeded in storming the Parliament grounds and disrupting the proceedings for a day. For the past week, though, in fear of being arrested for treason, they have stayed outside the fence and yelled their objections.

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