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KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — All production of films and recording regardless of whether media agencies or individual media outlets must apply for licence before filming, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah insisted today.
Saifuddin said under the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) Act, film producers are required to inform the corporation via existing channels seven days prior to filming date, and this even includes media meant for social media platforms.
“Film producers must apply for Film Production License and Film Shooting Certificate (SPP) regardless of whether they are mainstream media agencies or personal media which produce films on social media platforms or traditional channels,” Saifuddin said during the minister’s question time at Parliament today.
Yesterday, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM) said it was unaware of any requirement to obtain permission from Finas for any news video production, and there was no such issue in the past.
During the minister’s question time, Saifuddin was responding to Kluang DAP MP Wong Shu Qi who asked the minister to state whether all film producers will be made compulsory to apply for SPP, regardless of whether they are a mainstream media agencies or personal media which produce films on social media platforms or traditional channels.
According to Saifuddin, who cited the National FIlm Development Corporation Act 1982, Section 22(1), said “no person shall participate in any production activities, distribute and exhibit films or any combination the activities specified in Section 21(1) unless a licence is issued authorising him to do so”.
He added that the Additional Conditions of Film Production under Regulations 4 of the Act (Licensing) 1983, Condition (1) that is enforced, “licensees, if filming, should inform the corporation no later than seven days before filming a movie begins through certain forms issued by the corporation”.
“By submission of the form, the SPP will be issued by the corporation,” he said, referring to Finas.
Among other things, Finas’ functions under the Act include the development of the film industry, and the regulation and control of the production, distribution and exhibition of films in Malaysia and to issue licences for such purposes.
Wong’s question came after Saifuddin reportedly said his ministry will check if Al Jazeera had obtained a licence from Finas to produce the documentary — Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown — which was aired on its 101 East weekly current affairs show — before it started production, saying that a lack of licence would be considered an offence as permission from Finas is needed before films and documentaries can be produced in Malaysia.
The news outlet has since dismissed claims by Finas that it did not have the necessary licence to film or air its documentary on the alleged mistreatment of migrants in Malaysia.
Al Jazeera English managing director Giles Trendle had in a statement yesterday said that per Finas’ own definition, its 101 East weekly current affairs show does not fall into the category of film requiring a licence.
He also said the authorities, unable to contest the integrity of their journalism, are now attempting this new gambit of claiming the news outlet did not have a proper licence.