New MDA licensing scheme for news websites

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:

  1. asiaone.com
  2. businesstimes.com.sg
  3. omy.sg
  4. stomp.com.sg
  5. straitstimes.com
  6. tnp.sg
  7. zaobao.com
  8. todayonline.com
  9. channelnewsasia.com
  10. sg.news.yahoo.com


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