1. From 1 June 2013, online news sites that report regularly on issues relating to Singapore and have significant reach among readers here will require an individual licence from the Media Development Authority (MDA). This will place them on a more consistent regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually licensed.
2. Under the licensing framework, online news sites will be individually licensed if they (i) report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs 1 over a period of two months, and (ii) are visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month over a period of two months. Currently, these sites are automatically class-licensed under the Broadcasting Act. When MDA has assessed that a site has met the criteria to be individually licensed, MDA will issue a formal notification and work with the site to move it to the new licensing framework. Please see Annex for the sites that MDA will be issuing licensing notifications to when the licensing framework is launched.
3. The new Licence provides greater clarity on prevailing requirements within the Class Licence and Internet Code of Practice, and explains what MDA would consider “prohibited content” in the existing Internet Code of Practice, e.g. content that undermines racial or religious harmony. As the sites are already subject to these requirements, no change in content standards is expected to result. The Licence also makes it clear that online news sites are expected to comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards. The only other additional requirement is that online news sites are required to put up a performance bond like all other individually-licensed broadcasters, and the sum of $50,000 is consistent with that required of niche TV broadcasters.
4. These updates in the licensing framework are part of MDA’s efforts to periodically review all policies, to ensure they are in line with industry and consumer developments.
1A “Singapore news programme” is any programme (whether or not the programme is presenter-based and whether or not the programme is provided by a third party) containing any news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of Singapore in any language (whether paid or free and whether at regular interval or otherwise) but does not include any programme produced by or on behalf of the Government.
About Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA)
The Media Development Authority of Singapore (www.mda.gov.sg) promotes the growth of globally competitive film, television, radio, publishing, music, games, animation and interactive digital media industries. It also regulates the media sector to safeguard the interests of consumers, and promotes a connected society. MDA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information (www.mci.gov.sg).