THE NEED for a creative industries law has been made more urgent by digitalization, with the industry needing to exploit the opportunities available to it in order to drive the industry’s recovery, a Trade department official said.

“The crisis has accelerated digitalization and we would like to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the availability of new technologies and use these tools to drive the recovery of the creative industry… To jumpstart the process, the approval of the Creative Industries (Development) Act is needed,” Trade and Industry Undersecretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba said.

She was speaking at a forum Wednesday organized by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham).

Ms. Aldaba said that the pandemic has significantly affected the creative industry, with creative exports falling last year to $6.2 billion from $6.7 billion in 2019.  

She said that 61% of companies in the arts and entertainment sector halted operations, with 21% shutting down permanently.

However, she noted opportunities such as the transition to digital platforms like Netflix, Inc., whose Filipino users grew by 1 million in 2020. She valued the resulting revenue at $79 million.

Museums and events such as the National Museum and Art Fair Philippines have also opened online platforms for digital exhibits and tours.

Ms. Aldaba said earlier that the Philippines must address constraints to industry expansion, including high costs in the film and gaming sectors, low levels of investment, and a Philippine bias for foreign creative goods.

The proposed Philippine Creative Industries Development Act seeks to establish the Philippine Creative Industry Development Council under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that will be responsible for promoting the development of creative content and protecting creators from intellectual property infringement.

The council will have 17 members, nine from the private sector and eight from various government agencies. It will draft a Philippine Creatives Industries Development Plan.

The bill, if passed, will also establish a Creative Industry Development Fund for research and development, with a trade promotion component. It will set up one-stop registration centers for micro, small, and medium creative enterprises to avail of government services.

Creative industries covered by the bill are audio and audiovisual media; digital interactive media; creative services; design; publishing and printed media; performing arts; visual arts; traditional cultural expressions; and cultural sites.

The bill was approved in the House of Representatives on Sept. 20. It was supported by various foreign chambers, including AmCham.

Pangasinan Rep. Christopher P. de Venecia, chairman of the House Committee on the Creative Industry and Performing Arts, said if signed into law, the measure will help the creative industry catch up with its regional peers.

“While Filipinos continue to love Hollywood and Western content, and recently Korean content and culture as well, it won’t be long before our country’s own consumers start getting into (Southeast Asian) content because our neighbors are many steps ahead in creative industries policymaking and programming,” he said.

Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, said during the forum that the panel has approved the chamber’s counterpart bill and has finalized its committee report.

He hopes to lobby for the passage of the bill once plenary debates resume in November. — Russell Louis C. Ku