Breakfast Network must close after not registering: MDA

Breakfast Network must close after not registering: MDA

Socio-political website Breakfast Network must shut down since it has decided not to register, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said Tuesday.

"Since Breakfast Network has decided not to submit the registration form, and will therefore not be complying with the registration notification, MDA will require that Breakfast Network cease its online service," a spokesman for the media regulator said in a statement.

The regulator had set Dec 17 as the deadline for the eight-month-old site to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification.

This states that an Internet content provider "engaged in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore" will need to register with the MDA.

Breakfast Network also had to undertake not to receive foreign funding, in a move to guard against foreign influence on Singapore politics through the manipulation of local media platforms.

But in a post on Monday night, the site's owner, shareholder and editor Bertha Henson announced that she would be suspending the website's operations. Contributors will return to blogging and posting on Facebook.

Lawyers and business people had described the registration forms as "onerous", she said. "The demand to register - or else - has created a wrinkle in our barely formed plans to become a sustainable and professional outfit. Therefore, we have decided to suspend operations until we have re-strategised or at least till the amendments to the Broadcasting Act are unveiled."

Since Tuesday, all Breakfast Network content had been replaced with a notice saying "kitchen closed".

In a post on Facebook later, Ms Henson pointed to "key changes" in the registration forms she was given, compared with the ones available on the MDA website. These included having to list anyone, even volunteer contributors, involved in managing or running Breakfast Network, instead of only executive committee and editorial team members.

Another sticking point was that the site would have had to keep all records and data related to it, and submit these to the MDA "when required".

The MDA said registration is not intended to crimp the growth of any media outfit, and registered sites could still receive bona fide commercial revenue, including from foreign advertisers.

"This process will not in any way affect what registered sites can publish on their websites," it said in reply to Straits Times queries.

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