Our friends across the causeway have been handed a rather unorthodox order by Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA). Turns out, 10 local news websites with a “significant reach” of at least 50,000 unique visitors over a period of 2 months have been required to have a new licence. This new licence requires the sites to comply within 24 hours to any directives set from the MDA to remove content found to be in breach of standards, for example anything that is “against public interest, public order, public security, national harmony and public morality.” The 10 sites in question will also be required to put up a “performance bond” of SG$50,000. Under the broadcasting act, the MDA is allowed to prosecute the site owner in court for unlicensed services and the incumbent wil be liable to a fine not exceeding SG$200,000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years. Moving forward the MDA will also assess if more Singapore sites will be required to be put under this framework.
Notably, out of the 10 sites, 9 belong to established broadcasters or mainstream media and the odd one out is Yahoo! Singapore who doesn’t have a media license as yet. It has been reported that blogs are being excluded from this scheme for now. The garden state doesn’t exactly have the best records for media freedom but this may just push it past the tipping point. What do you think? Does the Singapore Government have a point with this move or is it just a gag order in the works?
(Source: Today Online)