SINGAPORE - The company which manages socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC) has submitted its forms to register under a class licence, which prohibits the company from receiving foreign funding.
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According to a statement sent to the media, TOC stated that it had complied with the request from the Media Development Authority (MDA) to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification, which comes under the Broadcasting Act, by Nov 10.
The registration entails that the site will not receive foreign funding for its provision, management and/or operation.
TOC also requested for its website to be de-listed as a "political association".
Here is the statement from TOC:
The Opinion Collaborative Ltd (TOC Ltd) has submitted its registration forms to the Media Development Authority (MDA) on 10 November, as requested by MDA to do so under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification.
We would like to express three observations from this registration process.
Firstly, our working relationship with MDA has been frank but friendly, and we have met amicably as equal parties who are equally interested in Singapore media's scene, albeit for different reasons.
Secondly, we echo the concerns made earlier by the FreeMyInternet group: That MDA's excessive and unwarranted concern with foreign funding has hampered its ability to be an effective media developer. Through this exercise, MDA has exhibited a lack of understanding in how the new media environment in Singapore operates, particularly for a social enterprise that depends on donations for revenue. MDA's obsession with foreign funding, unfortunately, also hampers our operational effectiveness - as owners of a small business, we cannot possibly afford to spend time filling in forms every month.
As such, MDA should do away with such a regulatory framework completely. We would like to remind MDA of its stated aim for media regulation: "In supporting the growth of Singapore's media sector, MDA fosters a conducive business environment through regulatory policies that encourage investment and innovation, while providing more content choices for consumers." We do not see how this regulatory framework helps it achieve that.
And thirdly, the completion of this registration effectively means that The Online Citizen (TOC) is registered three times with the need to fulfil three different obligations, under two different identities with two different government agencies.
The fact that we have complied with all these indicates that fears of foreign sources funding TOC are completely unfounded. As such, we look forward to the Prime Minister's Office lifting the gazetting requirements on TOC as a "political association".