Just last week, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) came up with a set of regulations stating that “news sites that report regularly on Singapore and have significant reach will be required to follow the same regulatory framework as traditional media” (Chiu, 2013). Websites such as Yahoo! News will have to obtain an individual license similar to those that traditional media have. The implications of this license is that “online news sites are expected to comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards” (Chiu, 2013).
The new regulations were met with criticism and were claimed to be put in place so that the government can control the content of news that is not under Singapore’s main media organisations Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings. Unlike these two media groups, Yahoo! News has had a penchant for putting up objective news that were not always in favour of the Singapore government. To put things in perspective, the mainstream media in Singapore does not rank highly in terms of press freedom. For 2013, Singapore is ranked 149 out of 179 countries in terms of press freedom, a drop of 14 places compared to the previous year (“Press Freedom Index 2013”, 2013).
This is a real challenge for objective news reporting in Singapore, as third party websites will most likely be faced with licensing issues should their content be deemed questionable. Perhaps social media can help to mitigate this problem. It’s all too easy to create a social media account on say, Facebook, and have people following the activities of the said account. It may even be tougher for MDA to impose its regulations on social media. Of course, the onus is on the account owners to walk a fine line; that is to produce news that is objective and not defamatory, or they might risk getting into trouble with the law.
Chiu, P. (2013). 10 online news sites must follow traditional media regulations: MDA Retrieved 30 May 2013, from http://sg.news.yahoo.com/10-online-news-sites-must-follow-traditional-media-regulations–mda-103906167.html
Press Freedom Index 2013. (2013) Retrieved 30 May 2013, from https://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html