Singapore’s IMDA Seeks Greater Enforcement Powers

The ability to enter homes and workplaces without a warrant in order to pursue unlicensed film screenings is among the new powers sought by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority. The measure is one of several revisions being proposed to the country’s Films Act.

The IMDA says the proposed Films Act amendments are “pro-family and pro-business,” with some “additional operational amendments to align and update our policies to cater to the changing media environment.” The revisions are currently up for public consultation until Dec. 30.

A petition campaigning against the increased enforcement powers was started by filmmaker Jason Soo and has attracted over 400 signatories, according to the Straits Times. A lobby group called filmcommunitysg, which includes Boo Junfeng, Anthony Chen, Tan Pin Pin and Jasmine Ng, said it is studying the changes. “In theory, with provisions like these, an IMDA officer could enter anyone’s home to seize a documentary you are making,” wrote Kirsten Tan, whose “Pop Aye” was Singapore’s Academy Awards contender, in a Facebook posting.

In a written response, an IMDA spokesman told Variety that the funding and regulatory body needed the added “investigation and enforcement powers as IMDA increasingly takes on investigations into breaches of the Films Act from the Police.”

Another IMDA spokesman described the filmmakers as a “small group of critics.”

The second spokesman also suggested that the proposed regulatory expansion was part of the consultation process. “We want to cast the net as wide as we can and see where people’s comfort levels are drawn.”

Among the other proposed changes is the ability of distributors and exhibitors to co-classify films with a rating up to the PG13 level. While the proposal does not change classification standards, the move is intended to get uncontroversial titles into the marketplace quicker. It follows a trial operation that has been in pilot stage since 2011.

Another change is the expansion of a class license for video game sales. That will require retailers to conduct age checks when selling games classified as M18 (only available to people of 18 or older). At present the burden lies with wholesalers.

The first MDA spokesman explained: “With increasing ease of creating and accessing content, the amendments will clarify that a license is required even if an entity or person is not in the business of distribution/exhibiting films. The amendments will refocus regulatory efforts on distribution and public exhibition activities.”

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