MDA licencing forced Breakfast Network to cease operations

It is a sad day for Singapore media landscape.
On 26 November 2013, The Media Development Authority (MDA) notified the owner of The Breakfast Network to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification. After extending the registration deadline to 17 December, the owner of The Breakfast Network decided not to register. As a result, MDA require the socio-political news website to cease its online service.
Some people might say that it is not MDA’s fault. Breakfast Network could easily submit the relevant document and register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification. But it is not so simple. Besides no foreign funding, the forms also required everyone involved in the site to be named, including volunteer contributors. And most importantly, all information, records, documents, data or other materials concerning or relating to management and/or operation of the website must be properly kept and shall be furbished to MDA as and when required by MDA.
Who will want to sign this form? Who will agree to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification? And I can’t help but wonder why, as a democratic country, do we need to register with the Media Development Authority in order to run a website.
This is killing the freedom of speech on internet. The end of “light touch” internet regulation. I’m against regulating the internet. I always thought that the new MDA licensing framework that was announced in May will cause website to shut down. I was wrong. MDA has many other ways to cause website to shutdown. This Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification is one of them.
The only good thing is that the outdated Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification did not cover social media sites like Facebook. So The Breakfast Network can still operate on their Facebook page. Although this is not as good as having their own website, I guess it is better than nothing. We just need to pray that the MDA don’t amend the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification to include Social Media sites.
And seriously, I think MDA should just change their name to Media Destruction Authority of Singapore. I haven’t seen any media development done by them. All they do is make it harder for anyone to run a creditable socio-political news website in Singapore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *