On 31 May 2013, two days after announcing its new licensing framework, Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) posted the following on their Facebook page:
“Much has been discussed about recent changes to the licensing framework for news sites and we thank you for your comments. We thought it would be useful to clear the air by highlighting some key facts of our current media regulations.
1. The licensing framework only applies to sites that focus on reporting Singapore news and are notified by MDA that they meet the licensing criteria. An individual publishing views on current affairs and trends on his/her personal website or blog does not amount to news reporting.
2. There is no change to the content standards for these news sites. Today, these sites already have to observe content guidelines under the Class Licence which require the sites to make best efforts to keep their sites free of harmful content which are against public interest, public morality, public order, public security and national harmony. These same class licensing guidelines will continue to apply under the individual licence.
3. MDA’s content guidelines are focused on core content concerns that would threaten the social fabric and national interests of our country. Examples include content that incites racial or religious hatred; misleads and causes mass panic; or advocates or promotes violence.
4. The framework is not an attempt to influence the editorial slant of news sites.
5. MDA will only step in when complaints are raised to our attention, and we assess that the content is in breach of the content guidelines and merits action by the website owner.
6. Takedown requests are not common. In the past two years, MDA has only issued one take-down notice for the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
7. The performance bond of $50,000 is pegged to that put up by niche broadcasters today, and need not necessarily entail cash up front. Licensees can consider options such as banker’s guarantee or insurance. MDA will be happy to engage in further discussions with any licensee who may have concerns about meeting the licence obligations.”
HOWEVER in its first press release on the matter, MDA stated in its footnoot that,
“A “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.”
So what is it exactly, and will MDA care to be clear on this matter once and for all instead of trying to flip the prata here?
Or maybe… maybe the press release on 28 May was supposed to be a draft… released accidentally.
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