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MDA seeks registration of website The Middle Ground

SINGAPORE — The company behind socio-political commentary website The Middle Ground (TMG) has been notified by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) notification, which would require an undertaking not to receive foreign funding for the website.

MDA seeks registration of website The Middle Ground

A screenshot of The Middle Ground website.

SINGAPORE — The company behind socio-political commentary website The Middle Ground (TMG) has been notified by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) notification, which would require an undertaking not to receive foreign funding for the website.

Announcing this on Facebook today (July 29), the website’s co-founder and consulting editor, Ms Bertha Henson, said: “And yes, we’ll register.”

An MDA spokesperson said, in response to queries from TODAY, that the MDA is registering The Middle Ground Pte Ltd “as it is an Internet Content Provider engaged in the propagation, promotion and/or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore”.

The undertaking not to receive foreign funding for the provision, management and/or operation of The Middle Ground website “ensures that foreign entities do not engage in Singapore’s domestic politics, or control or manipulate our local media platform,” said the spokesperson. As part of the registration, the identities of the people behind the website have to be declared.

Other registered sites include The Online Citizen and The Independent. The now defunct socio-political commentary site Breakfast Network had been asked in November 2013 by the MDA to register but Ms Henson, its editor then, decided to shut down the site, citing “onerous” registration requirements.

The Middle Ground, which started last month, has garnered a following of close to 20,000 fans on Facebook.

The MDA spokesperson added that the registration “does not entail changes to the content standards as set out in the Internet Code of Practice and will not affect what TMG may publish on its website”.

The Middle Ground Pte Ltd has 14 days to complete the registration form.

When contacted, Ms Henson said she is expecting to receive the registration package tomorrow, and will wait for the forms before making further comments.

The class licensing framework, under which The Middle Ground Pte Ltd has been asked to register, is separate from the individual licensing required from certain online news websites. The latter — which report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs and are visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore monthly over two months — have to put up a S$50,000 performance bond and comply with the MDA’s take-down directions within 24 hours. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SIAU MING EN

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