TOC’s class licence cancelled over ‘clear and persistent’ refusal to declare funding sources: IMDA
SINGAPORE — Sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC) has had its class licence cancelled after its “clear and persistent refusal” to declare its funding sources, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Friday (Oct 15).
SINGAPORE — Sociopolitical website The Online Citizen (TOC) has had its class licence cancelled after its “clear and persistent refusal” to declare its funding sources, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Friday (Oct 15).
In a statement, the authority said that TOC can no longer operate any licensable broadcasting services after it “repeatedly refused to comply with its licence conditions as a registered internet content provider”.
It also said that registered internet content providers such as TOC, which engage in the online promotion or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore, are required to be transparent about their sources of funding.
“This is to prevent such internet content providers from being controlled by foreign actors, or coming under the influence of foreign entities or funding, and to ensure that there is no foreign influence in domestic politics.”
The authority added that despite “multiple reminders and extensions of time granted”, TOC had failed to declare its funding sources in 2020.
It had therefore suspended TOC’s class licence on Sept 14 this year, and gave a final deadline of Sept 28 for the team to submit the required information.
“As at Oct 14 2021, TOC has still not submitted the required information,” IMDA said. “TOC has also publicly stated that it will not be providing the required information.”
On Sept 16, TOC took down its website and social media pages after IMDA suspended its class licence then for failing to declare its funding sources.
Its chief editor Terry Xu told TODAY on Sept 28 that the firm has never received foreign funding. It also launched a judicial review to dispute the order by IMDA for the site to suspend its social media pages.
The authority said that the website’s “clear and persistent refusal to be transparent and to provide the necessary information” so as to comply with the Broadcasting Act and the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification has compelled it to cancel TOC’s class licence with immediate effect.