Disney+, the streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, will launch in South Africa on 18 May 2022. Disney is South Africa’s newest streaming service, joining MultiChoice’s Showmax and DSTV NOW, Amazon’s Prime Video, Apple TV, and Netflix. Paramount + is set to enter the South African market in 2023.
South African consumers are excited by the launch of Disney+, and many consumers have taken to social media to vent their frustration around Netflix’s desire to curb password sharing. At R119 per month, Disney+ is cheaper than Netflix (R159 per month) but is more expensive than Apple TV (R85 per month) and Amazon Prime (R79 per month.)*
From a regulatory compliance perspective, the recent amendments to the Films and Publications Amendment Act that came into operation in March are of great significance. All online distributors (streaming platforms are classified as online distributors) will need to register with the Films and Publication Board (FPB). Content classification has become a contentious issue. Commercial online distributors have three options:
- Self-classification: commercial online distributors can opt to self-classify their films provided that their classification systems comply with the FPB’s classification guidelines. The FBP must be informed of all content that is classified as “XX” or “X18”. Commercial online distributors who have been approved for self-classification may be required to share the details of their classification decisions with the FPB. All self-classified online distributors are required to display age ratings, as well as classification information together with the FPB’s logo on, or in connection with, any film or game.
- Accreditation of foreign and international classification systems: commercial online distributors wishing to distribute films in South Africa may apply to the Films and Publications Council to use classification ratings issued by a foreign or international classification authority or body. When considering these applications, the Council will assess how similar the foreign or international classification systems are to South Africa’s own classification system.
- Direct submission to the FPB for classification: commercial online distributors can submit their films directly to the FPB for classification, prior to distribution.
Online platforms have noted their discontent with the classification process and find it particularly challenging to align and adapt their classification systems with the FPB’s. “The approach adopted …is out of step with international approaches to the classification of content on global platforms, in terms of which the platform owner is given full autonomy over its self -classification decisions.”
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