Traditional and online news providers must uphold common standards: Yaacob

Popular news providers, whether on traditional or online platforms, need to uphold common standards in their news reporting, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim on Friday.

Writing on Facebook a day before new regulations governing news sites with significant reach and report on Singapore regularly kick in, he said: "I can understand the initial mixed reactions.

"But I am confident that the worries of so-called restrictions on Internet space will prove to be unfounded in time to come."

On Tuesday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) announced that news sites which have 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore each month over a period of two months, and publish a report on Singapore on average once a week over two months, will need to be individually licensed. Previously, they would automatically fall under a class license scheme.

Dr Yaacob yesterday repeated a point he had made on Tuesday for the reasons for the change.

He said: "Online news sites are becoming important sources of news for Singaporeans. They should have the same responsibility as newspapers and television for their content."

He stressed that content standards had not changed.

"Under the current class licensing regime, content that breaches our content standards - whether it offends good taste or incites racial or religious hatred - already needs to be taken down. There will be no change in these standards."

The difference was that licence holders must remove prohibited content within 24 hours of MDA's directions. Secondly, a $50,000 performance bond, which can be furnished as a banker's guarantee, will need to be provided.

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