You can now watch R21 movies on pay-TV

SINGAPORE - Movies rated R21 have been made available on pay-TV in private homes from Thursday.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has given the green light for StarHub and SingTel to offer R21 content on their video- on-demand platforms.

SingTel's mio TV will be offering to its customers R21 movies on demand, such as the crime thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), the gay-themed drama A Single Man (2009), superhero flick Watchmen (2009) and horror flick The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

Information is available at the miotv.com.sg website.

StarHub is still working out the details of its R21 content service and will announce them at a later date, said Ms Iris Wee, its vice- president for home solutions and content.

Material that is rated by MDA as R21 is deemed suitable for adults aged 21 and older. At cinemas, only those who are old enough are allowed to watch an R21 movie.

The highest rating for pay-TV content now is M18.

The move to allow R21 content on the platform started in 2010.

The Censorship Review Committee had recommended in its report that year that R21 content be allowed on subscription TV and video-on-demand "with a strong caveat that a simple-to-use parental lock mechanism is available".

It added that if R21 content is made available, the operators should lock it by default.

The Government accepted the proposal.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, Ms Amy Chua, MDA's director of content and standards for broadcast, Internet and publications, said: "We are taking a calibrated approach to allow more media choices for adults while protecting the young by giving parents the necessary tools to lock content that's not suitable for their children."

Now, mio TV is offering only movies, and not TV series, with the highest rating.

Both pay-TV operators conducted trials last year to test the parental locking mechanism.

For SingTel, more than 50 households, including families with young children, were given three weeks to access a selection of R21 movies and give feedback.

For StarHub, an "extensive trial" was conducted over a month.

Members of MDA's programme advisory committees, who have children below the age of 21 and were existing customers of StarHub and mio TV, also took part in the trials.

More than 96 per cent of respondents found the R21 PIN, or personal identification number, system to be effective in preventing unauthorised access.

As to whether R21 content might be made available for sale on DVD and video, Ms Chua said: "We would like to assess how consumers view this service on video-on-demand before we think of introducing it on other platforms."

bchan@sph.com.sg


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