Singapore's media and infocomm authorities IDA and MDA will merge to form IMDA

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) are headed towards a merger. PHOTO: IDA, MDA/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Singapore's infocomm and media authorities are headed towards a merger, to better position the nation to seize new opportunities in the converging media and infocomm space.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) will merge to form the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) in the second half of this year.

MDA chief executive officer Gabriel Lim will helm the new IMDA.

The restructuring follows last August's launch of the Infocomm Media Masterplan that charts out ways technology will be used to transform how people live, learn, work and play through 2025.

Driverless vehicles, underground data centres and home-integrated sensors are some of the ideas outlined in the 10-year plan, the first to take into account how media and infocomm interests have become intertwined.

"Here in Singapore, we are excited by the new opportunities thrown up by the convergence of the infocomm and media sectors," said Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim on Monday (Jan 18).

He was delivering the opening address at a forum on Internet of Things in Smart Sustainable Cities: A New Age of Smarter Living at Suntec Singapore. The forum was jointly organised by the International Telecommunication Union and IDA.

The new IMDA will implement the Infocomm Media Masterplan.

"The plan, which was developed in partnership with industry players, also recognises the potential of infocomm media to power the digital transformation of our economy, to revitalise and renew our service and manufacturing industries, and to effect the digital transformation of government services," Dr Yaacob added.

The newly merged entity will also deepen the regulatory capabilities for a converged infocomm media sector to safeguard consumer interest.

For instance, companies like StarHub and Singtel - which are in the infocomm infrastructure and content space - will benefit by going to just one authority for matters related to the promotion and regulation of connectivity and content.

Said StarHub chief executive officer Tan Tong Hai: "It is no longer possible to draw a clear line between the info-communications and media spaces. The (merger) of IDA and MDA is certainly moving in the right direction, especially as Singapore evolves into a smart nation."

Singtel group chief executive offier Chua Sock Koong said the merger is timely and will help accelerate its effort to innovate in both sectors. "The new IMDA is well-positioned to drive the national innovation agenda and ensure a consistent regulatory framework," she said.

IMDA will also carry on with earlier plans to amend the Broadcasting Act, among others.

Privacy watchdog the Personal Data Protection Commission will come under IMDA to ensure that consumers' data is protected even as their data is being analysed for, say, targeted marketing to drive business goals.

A new Government Technology Organisation (GTO) will also be set up in the second half of this year to lead the government's digitisation efforts.

It will take over the heavy engineering functions of IDA's Government Chief Information Office, which will be dissolved.

IDA managing director Jacqueline Poh will head the new organisation.

The restructuring will take effect in April.

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