10 online news sites must follow traditional media regulations: MDA

MDA says 10 online news sites must follow the same regulatory framework as traditional media

Ten online news sites that report regularly on Singapore and have significant reach will be required to follow the same regulatory framework as traditional media.

According to a statement issued by the Media Development Authority (MDA) on Tuesday, the 10 online news sites, which include sg.news.yahoo.com, will from Saturday need an individual licence just as traditional news platforms now have. Currently, the online news sites only have a class licence under the Broadcasting Act.

The new licence makes it clear 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, the Singapore media regulator said.

The sites will also be required to put up a performance bond of S$50,000, like all other individually-licensed broadcasters.

MDA said the new licence provides greater clarity on prevailing requirements within the Class Licence and Internet Code of Practice, and also explains what would be considered “prohibited content” in the existing Internet Code of Practice – content that undermines racial or religious harmony, for example.

“As the sites are already subject to these requirements, no change in content standards is expected to result,” MDA said.

Under the licensing framework, online news sites will be individually licensed 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 are visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month over a period of two months.

When the licensing framework is launched, MDA said it will be issuing licensing notifications for the following ten sites: asiaone.com, businesstimes.com.sg, channelnewsasia.com, omy.sg, sg.news.yahoo.com, stomp.com.sg, straitstimes.com, tnp.sg, todayonline.com and zaobao.com.

Aside from the Yahoo! Singapore news site, all the other nine sites are run by Singapore’s two biggest media groups, MediaCorp and Singapore Press Holdings.

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