New MDA licensing scheme for news websites
Under the new framework, these sites must also put up a performance bond of $50,000, similar to that required for niche TV broadcasters. -Singapolitics
SINGAPORE - From June 1, websites that regularly report Singapore news and have significant reach will require individual licences to operate.
Currently, most websites are covered automatically under a class licence scheme. But the Media Development Authority (MDA) will require websites to be individually licensed once they meet two criteria.
These are: if they report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore's news and current affairs over a period of two months, and have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore each month over a period of two months. The individual licences have to be renewed every year.
Under the new framework, these sites must also put up a performance bond of $50,000, similar to that required for niche TV broadcasters.
Announcing the ruling on Tuesday, the MDA said the move would place such sites on a "more consistent regulatory framework" with traditional news platforms like newspapers and television stations, which are individually licensed.
The licence makes clear that online news sites are expected to remove content that is in breach of MDA standards within 24 hours, once notified to do so.
This material could cover content that is against the public interest, public security, or national harmony.
When the MDA deems that a site has met the criteria for individual licensing, it will issue a formal notification and work with the site to move it to the new framework.
After a visit to the Tamil Murasu newspaper office at Genting Lane, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim was asked how the Government intended to enforce the rules on sites based overseas. He said that an amendment to laws to cover media services, including foreign websites that target the Singapore market, will be introduced next year.
Ten sites currently fit the media regulator's criteria, of which seven are run by Singapore Press Holdings.
The 10 are:
Here is the full press release from the Media Development Authority (MDA):
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
List of Online News Sites which Require Individual Licence:
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