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Legislative History

 
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Films Act
(CHAPTER 107)

(Original Enactment: Act 22 of 1981)

REVISED EDITION 1998
(15th December 1998)
An Act relating to the possession, importation, making, distribution and exhibition of films.
[1st October 1981]
Short title
1.  This Act may be cited as the Films Act.
Interpretation
2.
—(1)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“approved warehouse” means any warehouse approved by the Board for the purposes of sections 12 and 13;
“Authority” means the Info-communications Media Development Authority established by section 3 of the Info-communications Media Development Authority Act 2016;
“Board” means the Board of Film Censors established under this Act;
“certificate” means a certificate issued under section 15(3);
“Chairman” means the Chairman of the Board;
“child” means a person who is below the age of 14 years;
“distribute” means to sell, hire out and supply and “distribution” shall be construed accordingly;
“election” means an election under the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218) or the Presidential Elections Act (Cap. 240A);
“electronic transmission” includes facsimile transmission, electronic mail or other similar kinds of communication but excludes broadcasting;
“exhibition” includes the production of any music, speech, noise, or other sound which accompanies the projection of a film and “exhibit” shall be construed accordingly;
“film” means —
(a)
any cinematograph film;
(b)
any video recording, including a video recording that is designed for use wholly or principally as a game;
(c)
any other material record or thing on which is recorded or stored for immediate or future retrieval any information that, by the use of any computer or electronic device, is capable of being reproduced or displayed as wholly or partly visual moving pictures,
and includes any part of a film, and any copy or part of a copy of the whole or any part of a film;
“licence” means a licence granted under section 7;
“Licensing Officer” means the officer appointed by the Minister under section 3(3) and includes an Assistant Licensing Officer;
“obscene”, in relation to a film, means a film the effect of which or (where the film comprises 2 or more distinct parts or items) the effect of any one of its parts or items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave or corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to see or hear the film;
“owner” or “owner of a film” means any person who is for the time being entitled, either as owner or agent for the owner, or otherwise, to the possession of a film, but does not include a bank through which a film is bona fide consigned for the sole purpose of collecting a trade debt;
“party political film” means a film —
(a)
which is an advertisement made by or on behalf of any political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body; or
(b)
which is made by any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore;
“place” means any building or part thereof, enclosure, ground or open-air space and includes a ship, boat or other vessel and any vehicle;
“Secretary” means the Secretary of the Board;
“supply”, in relation to a film, includes —
(a)
supply not only in its physical form but also by means of the electronic transmission of the contents of the film;
(b)
supply by way of exchange or loan; or
(c)
in relation to a film comprising a material record or thing on which is recorded or stored any information for immediate or future retrieval by the use of any computer or other electronic device, transferring or reproducing or enabling another to transfer or reproduce by electronic transmission the whole or part of the contents of the film onto another such material record or thing for immediate or future retrieval by such similar means;
“video recording” means any disc, magnetic tape or solid state recording device containing information by the use of which one or more series of visual images may be produced electronically and shown as a moving picture;
“young person” means a person who is 14 years of age or above but below the age of 16 years.
[10/98]
(2)  For the purposes of this Act, a film is directed towards a political end in Singapore if the film —
(a)
contains wholly or partly any matter which, in the opinion of the Board, is intended or likely to affect voting in any election or national referendum in Singapore; or
[13/2009 wef 26/05/2009]
(b)
contains wholly or partly references to or comments on any political matter which, in the opinion of the Board, are either partisan or biased; and “political matter” includes but is not limited to any of the following:
(i)
an election or a national referendum in Singapore;
(ii)
a candidate or group of candidates in an election;
(iii)
an issue submitted or otherwise before electors in an election or a national referendum in Singapore;
(iv)
the Government or a previous Government or the opposition to the Government or previous Government;
(v)
a Member of Parliament;
(vi)
a current policy of the Government or an issue of public controversy in Singapore; or
(vii)
a political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body.
[13/2009 wef 26/05/2009]
[10/98]
(3)  Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), none of the following films shall be regarded for the purposes of this Act as a party political film:
(a)
a film which is made solely for the purpose of reporting of news by a broadcasting service licensed under any written law;
(b)
a film which is made solely for the purpose of informing or educating persons on the procedures and polling times for any election or national referendum in Singapore;
(c)
a film which records live the whole or a material proportion of any performance, assembly of persons or procession that is held in accordance with the law and that does not depict any event, person or situation in a dramatic way;
(d)
a film designed to provide a record of an event or occasion that is held in accordance with the law for those who took part in the event or occasion or are connected with those who did so;
(e)
a documentary film without any animation and composed wholly of an accurate account depicting actual events, persons (deceased or otherwise) or situations, but not a film —
(i)
wholly or substantially based on unscripted or “reality” type programmes; or
(ii)
that depicts those events, persons or situations in a dramatic way;
(f)
a film without animation and dramatic elements —
(i)
composed wholly of a political party’s manifesto or declaration of policies or ideology on the basis of which candidates authorised by the political party to stand will seek to be elected at a parliamentary election; and
(ii)
made by or on behalf of that political party; and
(g)
a film without animation and dramatic elements —
(i)
composed wholly of a candidate’s declaration of policies or ideology on the basis of which the candidate will seek to be elected at a parliamentary or presidential election; and
(ii)
made by or on behalf of that candidate.
[13/2009 wef 26/05/2009]
Board of Film Censors and appointment of officers
3.
—(1)  There shall be established a Board of Film Censors consisting of not less than 3 members including a Chairman, all of whom shall be Censors of Films appointed by the Minister.
(2)  The Minister may appoint such Deputy and Assistant Censors of Films and such Inspectors of Films as he may think fit.
(3)  The Minister may, by notification in the Gazette, appoint an officer to be the Licensing Officer for the purposes of this Act and may similarly appoint such number of Assistant Licensing Officers as may be necessary.
(4)  The Board shall be provided with a Secretary and such clerical and other assistance as may be required.
Procedure of Board
4.
—(1)  The Board may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership.
(2)  The quorum at all meetings of the Board shall be 2 in addition to the Chairman.
(3)  The Chairman shall have a casting vote in addition to his deliberative vote.
(4)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Board shall regulate its own procedure.
Advisory committees
4A.
—(1)  The Minister may appoint one or more advisory committees to provide advice to the Board with regard to the performance of any of its functions in relation to any film.
(2)  Before making any decision under this Act in relation to a film and for the purpose of forming an opinion on which to base such decision, the Board may consult with the relevant advisory committee in respect of the film but, in making such decision, shall not be bound by such consultation.
[13/2009 wef 26/05/2009]
Delegation of powers and duties by Board
5.
—(1)  The Board may, in its discretion, delegate to any Censor, Deputy or Assistant Censor of Films, either generally or in a particular case, all or any of the powers conferred and duties imposed upon it by this Act except the power —
(a)
to prohibit the exhibition of a film; and
(b)
to approve the exhibition of any film with alterations or excisions unless the written consent of the owner to such alterations or excisions has first been obtained.
(2)  No delegation under subsection (1) shall debar the Board from the exercise of any power or the performance of any duty so delegated.
(3)  Any decision of the Board or of any person to whom any power or duty has been delegated by the Board may be signified under the hand of the Chairman or any person authorised by the Chairman to sign on his behalf.
(4)  Every decision so signified under subsection (3) shall be deemed to be a decision of the Board.
Licence for carrying on business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films
6.
—(1)  No person —
(a)
shall carry on any business, whether or not the business is carried on for profit, of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films unless he is in possession of a valid licence; or
(b)
being the owner or occupier of any place shall allow the place to be used by, or let the place or otherwise make the place available to, any person who is not the holder of a valid licence for the purpose of carrying on the business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films.
(2)  Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than $10,000 but not more than $40,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
[10/98]
Application for licence
7.
—(1)  An application for a licence shall be made to the Licensing Officer in such form as he may require.
(2)  On receipt of an application under subsection (1), the Licensing Officer shall consider the application and may grant a licence with or without conditions or refuse to grant a licence without assigning any reason.
(3)  The Licensing Officer may at any time vary or revoke any of the existing conditions of a licence or impose new conditions.
Security
8.
—(1)  The Licensing Officer may, before granting a licence, require the applicant to deposit such security as may be prescribed.
(2)  On the revocation or suspension of a licence, the Licensing Officer may, in his discretion, forfeit in whole or in part any security deposited under subsection (1).
(3)  Any person aggrieved by a forfeiture under this section may —
(a)
require the Licensing Officer to furnish him within 14 days the reason for the forfeiture; and
(b)
within 14 days of the furnishing to him of the reasons for the forfeiture, appeal in writing to the Minister whose decision shall be final.
Licence fee
9.  Every licensee shall pay such licence fee as may be prescribed.
Period for which licence is in force
10.  A licence shall be in force for such period as the Licensing Officer may determine and may be renewed at the discretion of the Licensing Officer on its expiry.
Revocation and suspension of licence
11.  The Licensing Officer may revoke or suspend a licence if he is satisfied that the licensee —
(a)
has contravened any of the provisions of this Act or any regulations made thereunder;
(b)
has failed to comply with any of the conditions of his licence;
(c)
has carried on or is carrying on the business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films in a manner likely to be detrimental to the interests of the public or his customers; or
(d)
has ceased to carry on the business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films.
Films made in Singapore to be deposited in approved warehouse
12.
—(1)  The owner of any film made in Singapore shall, within 7 days after the making of the film, deposit the film in a warehouse approved for this purpose by the Board.
(2)  Any person who fails to deposit the film in accordance with subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Importation and removal of films from approved warehouse
13.
—(1)  No film shall —
(a)
on importation by sea, be removed from the vessel by which the film was imported or from any godown of a provider of port services or facilities licensed or exempted under the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore Act (Cap. 170A); or
(b)
if imported by land or air, from a post office, railway station or other place of arrival without a permit from the Board.
[6/97]
(2)  A permit issued by the Board under subsection (1) shall be valid only for such period as may be specified therein.
(3)  Every film imported shall forthwith be deposited by the importer thereof in a warehouse approved for this purpose by the Board.
(4)  Any person who —
(a)
removes any film in contravention of subsection (1);
(b)
fails to deposit any imported film forthwith in an approved warehouse under subsection (3); or
(c)
removes a film from any approved warehouse without the permission in writing of the Board,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
(5)  This section shall not apply to any film which has been approved for exhibition.
Submission of films for censorship
14.
—(1)  Every film in the possession of any person shall be submitted to the Board without any alteration or excision for the purpose of censorship at the owner’s risk and expense and at such time and place as the Board may appoint.
(2)  During the course of censorship, the Board may in its discretion exclude any person from the place where the film is being exhibited.
(3)  The owner may at any time, with the approval in writing of the Board, which shall not be unreasonably withheld, remove any cinematograph film from any approved warehouse for the purpose of making excisions to it or of reconstructing it, or of obtaining the approval of the Board for its exhibition or of exhibiting exclusively to buyers or exhibitors or their agents.
[10/98]
(4)  Any cinematograph film removed from an approved warehouse under subsection (3) shall be returned to that warehouse within 48 hours of the time of its removal therefrom and any excised parts, if excision has been made, shall within 48 hours be delivered to the Board.
[10/98]
(5)  Any owner who fails to comply with subsection (4) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
(6)  There shall be charged for the censorship of any film such fees as may be prescribed.
Prohibition and approval of films for exhibition
15.
—(1)  After the submission of a film for the purpose of censorship, the Board may —
(a)
approve the film for exhibition without alteration or excision;
(b)
prohibit the exhibition of the film; or
(c)
approve the film for exhibition with such alterations or excisions as it may require.
(2)  The Board shall, in any case to which subsection (1)(b) or (c) applies, furnish to the owner in writing its reasons for the prohibition or for requiring the alterations or excisions.
(3)  Where any film is approved for exhibition, the Chairman shall, when the required alterations or excisions, if any, have been made, issue such certificate as the Minister may direct approving the exhibition of the film.
Classification of films
16.
—(1)  The Board may, when approving the exhibition of any film under section 15, classify the film in such manner as it may think fit and the Minister may approve the classifications under which films may be classified.
(2)  Where any film is classified under subsection (1), the Board shall specify the classification of the film in the certificate issued in respect of that film and may impose such conditions as it thinks fit.
(3)  The Board may require the owner of a film to deposit such security as may be prescribed for the due performance by the owner of all or any of the conditions imposed under subsection (2) in relation to the classification of the film.
[10/98]
(4)  Without prejudice to subsection (5), any security deposited under subsection (3) may be forfeited in whole or in part at the discretion of the Board if any condition imposed under subsection (2) is contravened or not complied with.
[10/98]
(5)  Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the conditions imposed under subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Alterations and excisions of films by Board
17.
—(1)  When alterations or excisions to a film are required by the Board, the alterations or excisions may be made by the Board or, with the consent of the Board, by the owner of the film.
(2)  Any film delivered to the owner for any alteration or excision shall be returned to the Board within 48 hours of the time of its delivery.
(3)  Any owner who fails to return the film, together with the excised parts if excision has been made or intact if he has not made the required excisions, within the period specified in subsection (2) without good and reasonable cause shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Retention of prohibited films by Board
18.
—(1)  Where the Board has prohibited the exhibition of any film or any part of any film, the Board may retain the film or any excised part of the film until it is exported or is disposed of under section 28.
(2)  On request by the person who submitted the film for censorship, the Board shall return the film or any part of any film retained under subsection (1) if the Board is satisfied that the person intends to take or send the film out of Singapore.
Duplicate film
19.  If the owner of a film satisfies the Chairman that a duplicate of a film already approved for exhibition by the Board is deposited in an approved warehouse, the Chairman may, without any further inspection, issue a certificate approving the exhibition of that film.
Interdiction of films approved by Board
20.
—(1)  A certificate shall cease to be valid on notice to that effect being given by the Board to the person who submitted the film for the purpose of censorship or to any person in possession of the film.
(2)  Where any person referred to in subsection (1) cannot be found, the notice may be given by publication in the Gazette.
(3)  On receipt of a notice under subsection (1), the person having possession or control of the film to which it relates shall forthwith return the certificate to the Board and shall also, if so required by the Board, return the film for further