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Breakfast Network must not operate on platforms such as Facebook: MDA

SINGAPORE — The team behind the now-defunct socio-political commentary site Breakfast Network has suspended posting on its Facebook page, after the Media Development Authority (MDA) said yesterday that the site cannot operate in “any iteration”, while Breakfast Network is active as a company.

Screenshot of Breakfast Network website.

Screenshot of Breakfast Network website.

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SINGAPORE — The team behind the now-defunct socio-political commentary site Breakfast Network has suspended posting on its Facebook page, after the Media Development Authority (MDA) said yesterday that the site cannot operate in “any iteration”, while Breakfast Network is active as a company.

“With great sadness, this will be the last post until we have clarified the MDA’s terms and are able to post on this page again legally. We ask for the MDA’s forbearance for this final message,” said the site’s team on its Facebook page yesterday evening.

Site Editor Bertha Henson announced on Dec 9 that she had decided to shut down the Breakfast Network site instead of registering with the MDA, citing the onerous registration process as a reason. But the Breakfast Network Facebook page would remain active, as would her blog, she said. The MDA had asked the site, and another news site The Independent, to register after it was incorporated as a company, saying this was to prevent the manipulation of local media platforms by foreign entities through funding.

Since Dec 9, the Breakfast Network Facebook page has continued to be updated regularly with posts on current events like the Little India riot.

However, the MDA yesterday issued a statement saying that, if Breakfast Network remains active as a company, “it must not operate any iteration of www.breakfastnetwork.sg on other Internet platforms, as doing so would contravene the MDA’s registration requirements”.

“These other Internet platforms include Breakfast Network’s Facebook page and Twitter feed,” it said.

The authority added that content is not the issue. “Rather, it is the mode of operation ... via a corporate entity, which means there is greater possibility for foreign influence,” it said.

The suspension provoked an outcry among the site’s followers, with some pointing out that if Breakfast Network deregistered as a firm, it could still keep its Facebook page running.

In its statement, the MDA also refuted an example of an onerous requirement cited by Ms Henson — that volunteer contributors to the site must be named in its registration forms.

Said the authority: “This is false. The MDA has replied to Ms Henson on Dec 6 that pro-bono editorial team members should be listed in the form if they are responsible for and/or involved in the provision, management and/or operation of the website. At no point did the MDA state that volunteer contributors need to be listed.”

As for Ms Henson’s concern about the effort needed to fill up the forms, the MDA said it had communicated to her that she could suggest other ways to provide the required information.

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