IMDA cancels The Online Citizen's class licence

TOC's class licence to run its website and social media channels were suspended on Sept 14. PHOTO: THE ONLINE CITIZEN

SINGAPORE - The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has cancelled the class licence of The Online Citizen after the socio-political website repeatedly refused to comply with its legal obligation to declare all sources of funding.

In a statement on Friday (Oct 15), the IMDA said registered Internet content providers (ICPs), 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 ICPs 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 IMDA said.

The authority said TOC failed to make an annual declaration of its funding sources for 2020 despite multiple reminders and extensions granted by IMDA.

TOC's class licence to run its website and social media channels were suspended on Sept 14, and it was given a final deadline of Sept 28 to submit the required information.

On Sept 16, TOC chief editor Terry Xu took the site and its social media channels offline, but said he would file a judicial review against IMDA's order for TOC to suspend its social media platforms.

He also later made public statements indicating that he did not intend to provide IMDA with the required information.

"TOC's clear and persistent refusal to be transparent and to provide the necessary information to bring it into full compliance with the Broadcasting Act and the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification compels IMDA to proceed with cancellation of TOC's class licence with immediate effect," IMDA said on Friday.

"It is an offence for TOC to operate any licensable broadcasting services, including any new licensable broadcasting services, without a licence."

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