When the sole owner of then-Breakfast Network Pte Ltd (BNPL), Bertha Henson, said that MDA’s handling of the Breakfast Network registration saga had been vague, MDA announced: “We object to this.” Bertha also called the proceedings “farcical”, but MDA didn’t refute that.
Let’s take a look at some of the stickier points of this farce:
1) MDA’s forms required that the “editorial team” involved in the “provision, management and/or operation of the website sign the undertaking”, including pro-bono members. Now, almost anyone in publishing knows that junior writers (and even interns) are part of the “editorial team”. MDA then said that “volunteer contributors” don’t need to sign the forms. No, MDA, that doesn’t make it clear.
2) MDA’s forms required that these members of the “editorial team” undertake not to receive foreign funding. In which Singaporean company is the editorial team in charge of funding decisions? Funding is decided by Directors, and sometimes by CEOs and CFOs. The editorial team produces content – so why is the editorial team responsible for something they have no control over?
3) Now that BNPL doesn’t exist anymore, why is MDA so interested in who is running the Breakfast Network Facebook Fan page? (go “like” it if you haven’t!) Obviously BNPL isn’t running it anymore – it doesn’t even exist! Is MDA planning to clamp down on non-companies too? Individuals?
4) Now that BNPL doesn’t exist, can an individual re-launch the Breakfast Network website as a personal project? MDA is still completely vague on this.
5) How is a Pte Ltd company more susceptible to receiving and being influenced by “foreign funding” than an individual or other entity? This has been the backbone of MDA’s rationale for licensing registration, but it doesn’t make any sense. You’d think it was easier for a sinister foreign spy network to bribe/drug/kidnap/buy free breakfast for an individual blogger. Now BNPL has turned back into a bunch of individual bloggers.
6) MDA said that the “registration requirement seeks to uphold the principle that politics must remain a matter for Singapore and Singaporeans alone”. This hasn’t been the case. andyxianwong’s blog goes in-depth about the xenophobia/hypocrisy and points to a political agenda.
7) Why did MDA single out TISG and Breakfast Network for registration, why not other more insidious, illegal and damaging sites that are making money off advertising already?
8) Why did MDA make last-minute amendments to its Class Licensing Form C, especially in the light of an impending change to the Broadcasting Act in parliament? Its initial correspondence to BNPL said that even the registration reporting conditions were subject to change. Change to what? Why now?
9) MDA’s description of itself:
About Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA)
The Media Development Authority of Singapore (www.mda.gov.sg) promotes the growth of globally competitive film, television, radio, publishing, music, games, animation and interactive digital media industries. It also regulates the media sector to safeguard the interests of consumers, and promotes a connected society. MDA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information (www.mci.gov.sg).
Way to #fail.