Independent Filipino filmmakers should capitalize on the international streaming of movies over the Internet as a way to reach a bigger audience and generate new income streams, House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Representative Lito Atienza said.
“If entertainment firms that provide video-on-demand services online can help struggling Filipino filmmakers make more money, and create more jobs here at home, then we are all for it,” Atienza, a backer of the Philippine movie industry and former three-term mayor of Manila, said.
“We cannot fight technological advances, so we might as well take full advantage of Internet TV networks to help promote highly relevant Filipino movies for global viewers, including Filipinos based overseas,” Atienza said.
Los Gatos, California-based Netflix Inc., which already has more than 100 million subscribers in 190 countries, including the Philippines, delivers streaming content through Internet-connected screens – from smart TVs, personal computers, laptops to tablets.
A smaller rival of Netflix, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based iFlix Sdn Bhd, or simply iflix, also offers streaming media to more than five million subscribers in 18 countries in Asia, the Middle East and Northern Africa.
But unlike iflix that simply buys the exclusive rights to stream movies in other countries, Netflix also produces, co-produces or commissions original series, documentaries, and feature films.
It may now be possible for independent Filipino producers to sell their films to the likes of Netflix for online streaming abroad, according to Atienza.
Netflix already offers several Asian films, mostly from India, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Taiwan, for international streaming.
Atienza is author of the proposed Philippine Film Industry Tax Holiday Act, or HB 2624, which seeks to grant new tax privileges to local producers who have been reeling from intense foreign competition.
Local producers desperately need financial encouragement to be able to compete here and abroad against movies made in Hollywood, Bollywood and South Korea, Atienza said.
Under Atienza’s bill, movies graded “A” by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) shall be entitled to a financial reward equal to 100 percent of the amusement tax collected from exhibitions.
Movies graded “B” shall get a reward equal to 65 percent of amusement tax generated, with the balance of 35 percent accruing to the FDCP.
The bill also empowers the FDCP to:
Exempt from taxes and duties all imported machinery and equipment and corresponding spare parts used to produce local movies;
Grant tax credits to domestic manufacturers of machinery and equipment used in producing local movies;
Waive taxes on the rental of machinery and equipment used to produce local movies; and
Free from taxes the editing, promotional and marketing fees paid by local movie producers.
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