On 28 May 2013, The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) sent out a News Release, entitled “Fact Sheet - Online news sites to be placed on a more consistent licensing framework as traditional news platforms”.
The following is a verbatim adaptation of the document:
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* 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 License provides greater clarity on prevailing requirements within the Class License 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 License 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. *A “Singapore news program” is any program (whether or not the program is presenter-based and whether or not the program 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 program produced by or on behalf of the Government. (from: http://www.mda.gov.sg/NewsAndEvents/PressRelease/2013/Pages/28052013.aspx. Retrieved 03 June, 2013)
You are Alfred Long, the editor of SGnews’r’us, an online news website that covers Singaporean news exclusively. Your website has 60,000 unique Singaporean viewers every month. SGnews’r’us offers its content for free; the revenue is derived solely from online advertising, which has been sufficient in keeping the site operational since its inception in 2007. After the release of this licensing information as well as subsequent clarifications, by the government, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SGnews’r’us, Mr. Jacob Abrams has asked you to write a report, to be submitted to the Board of Directors, assessing the implications that the new MDA guidelines will have for SGnews’r’us. Specifically, you should consider the reasons that may have motivated this policy change. Mr. Abrams, your Chairman, has also stipulated that, while your report should not be an argument about the relative merits of freedoms of speech and the Press, it should nonetheless consider how the new licensing framework will affect the way that SGnews’r’us can continue to function as an independent news website reporting Singaporean news – including what the website’s responsibilities are, and how it should serve the public interest. In anticipation of these new guidelines, you also need to make recommendations on what sort of changes SGnews’r’us should make to its approach to news reporting. Most importantly, how will these affect the way that your readers read the news about Singapore? Based on your report, the Board of Directors will then meet to discuss and decide on the long-term plans of SGnews’r’us.
The question belongs to Corporate Strategy and it is about SGnews’r’us online broadcasting. New regulations have been placed on news websites similar in nature to traditional news platforms. The editor of SGnews’r’us has been asked to report on the online broadcasting operations with regards to advertising revenue and viewership.
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