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Govt supports SPH’s restructuring proposal, willing to provide funding for not-for-profit media entity: MCI

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said on Thursday (May 6) that it supports a proposal by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to restructure its media business into a not-for-profit entity, and that the Government is prepared to provide funding support for that entity.

Mr S Iswaran (centre), Minister for Communications and Information, will deliver a ministerial statement in Parliament on May 10, 2021 regarding SPH's proposal to restructure its media business.

Mr S Iswaran (centre), Minister for Communications and Information, will deliver a ministerial statement in Parliament on May 10, 2021 regarding SPH's proposal to restructure its media business.

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that it supports a proposal by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to restructure its media business into a not-for-profit entity, and that the Government is prepared to provide funding support for that entity.

The ministry added in its statement on Thursday (May 6) that Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, will deliver a ministerial statement on this subject at the Parliament sitting next Monday.

Earlier on Thursday, SPH announced the restructuring move after its shares were suspended from trading.

The restructuring is expected to be fully completed by October, subject to shareholders’ approval. With that, SPH’s media business will eventually become a company limited by a guarantee, which essentially refers to a not-for-profit entity.

The exercise will initially involve transferring the entire media-related business of the conglomerate to a newly incorporated, wholly owned subsidiary known as SPH Media Holdings.

Mr Iswaran said in MCI’s statement that a professional, capable and respected news media here is critical to Singapore’s national interest.

“They must continue to be trusted by Singaporeans as a reliable and objective source of news, reporting on domestic and overseas events, as well as on the diversity of views that Singaporeans hold,” he said.

He also said that media organisations here report through a Singaporean lens, so that citizens have a good understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the country, as well as the choices that need to be made and Singapore’s place in the world.

“The Government therefore supports high quality, credible journalism in our local news media.” 

Mr Iswaran added that the Government agrees with an assessment by the SPH board and management that the current media business model within a listed company structure is not viable, given global technology and industry trends.

The Government’s goal will therefore be to help news media and journalists here “adapt and thrive in the digital era while maintaining the high professional standards we expect and value”.

Mr Iswaran said that the Government is prepared to provide SPH Media with funding support, with fiscal discipline and accountability for outcomes in areas such as digital innovation and capability development, as part of a long-term sustainable business plan.

“This restructuring of SPH Media and future Government support for it will help to strengthen SPH Media to continue its important role in Singapore’s media scene,” he said.

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