MDA should give $50,000 a year to good, responsible news sites

One can’t begin to describe how regressive MDA’s new ruling is. In the name of “a level playing field” they have slapped old, draconian standards on new, progressive media instead of “developing” the media, as their name suggests. We should rename the agency “Media Regression Authority”.

They have prescribed excessively broad definitions of what needs to be licensed and (self)censored, leading to unequal application of the rule. For example, propertyguru is ranked 10 in Singapore for traffic, way above most news sites. It publishes news on Singapore regularly. Will it need a license?

They have written rules that are full of loopholes and vagaries. What about Facebook accounts with more than 50,000 followers? What about sites based abroad? What about boards like Hardwarezone? What about comment sections?

They have invented a rule that wont solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Legitimate, quality news sites are responsible enough to follow the guidelines without legislation. Rogue sites and writers will ignore it anyway. They will end up having to use the weight of the law to enforce their silly rule, at great cost to our national coffers and reputation.

They have stifled the development of online media. It is regressive. It takes everything that is weak and wrong with our mainstream media (other than ownership) and bestows the same curse on the Internet.

Imagine being told that you needed to put a $5,000 performance bond at the police station “in case you commit a crime in the future”. Where is the sense in that? All the stipulated conduct guidelines are already covered by law. Why add another layer of bureaucracy?

Here’s a suggestion if they want to develop the online news media: give grants to responsible, high-traffic local news sites. $50,000 a year for sites with a reach of more than 50,000 unique visitors. They can pull the funding if the sites screw up or are found to be “undesirable”. Isn’t that how they do it with the arts?

Isn’t that better for development?



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