Licensing scheme: Changes to legislation gazetted

Changes to the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification were made on Wednesday, a day after media regulators announced that news sites with significant reach and which provide regular reports on Singapore need to be individually licensed.

In a notice posted on the Government Gazette, the Media Development Authority said news sites that fit certain criteria will now be excluded from the automatic class licence scheme, which most websites currently fall into.

Instead, from Saturday, sites which report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore over a period of two months, and reach at least 50,000 unique Internet Protocol addresses from here each month over a period of two months, need a licence.

This is renewable every year, and licence-holders must also post a $50,000 performance bond. The licence also makes clear that the holder must remove objectionable content, such as articles or pictures against the public interest, within 24 hours when notified to do so.

The amendment also spells out that content under sub-domains will be regarded as part of the domain of the said website.

All mirrored web sites will also be regarded as part of the original site if there is duplication or transfer to one or more other sites in or from Singapore.

The notice also specifies what the MDA deems a "report on Singapore". This is any programme, even those provided by third parties, containing news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of the country in any language (whether paid or free and whether at regular intervals or otherwise).

But, programmes produced by or on behalf of the Government are excluded.