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Online news sites to be regulated: MDA

SINGAPORE — Ten local news websites, with “significant reach” here and which report regularly on Singapore-related news, will now fall under a new licensing regime regulated by the Media Development Authority (MDA).

SINGAPORE — Ten local news websites, with “significant reach” here and which report regularly on Singapore-related news, will now fall under a new licensing regime regulated by the Media Development Authority (MDA). The news websites all belong to major broadcasters or publishers in Singapore, which are licensed, with the exception of Yahoo! Singapore News, which does not yet have a media licence. The new licence requires the sites to comply within 24 hours, to any directives from the MDA to remove content found to be in breach of standards. The new licensing regime will provide clarity on these standards. For instance, prohibited material means any content that is "against public interest, public order, public security, national harmony, public morality". These sites are also required to put up a “performance bond” of S$50,000. According to the MDA, the criteria for being placed on this regulatory framework is that the sites garner 50,000 unique visitors in two months, and report an average of at least one Singapore-related news article a week also over two months. In a press statement, the MDA said: “This will place them on a more consistent regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually licensed.” For refusing to comply with any of the conditions, MDA has the power to "impose financial penalties or suspend or revoke the incumbent’s licence". However the authority will investigate any breaches before deciding on the appropriate penalties. The Broadcasting Act empowers MDA to prosecute the site owner in Court for unlicensed services and the incumbent shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to both. Going forward, the MDA will continue to assess whether more Singapore news websites will need to be put under this licensing framework. The 10 websites are: 1. Asiaone.com 2. Businesstimes.com.sg 3. Channelnewsasia.com 4. Omy.sg 5. Sg.news.yahoo.com 6. Stomp.com.sg 7. Straitstimes.com 8. Tnp.sg 9. Todayonline.com 10. Zaobao.com

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