Report on the implications of new MDA guidelines on SGnews’r’us.

Report on the implications of new MDA guidelines on SGnews’r’us.

Scenario
On 28 May 2013, The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) sent out a News
Release, entitled “Fact Sheet – Online news sites to be placed on a more consistent
licensing framework as traditional news platforms”.
The following is a verbatim adaptation of the document:
1. From 1 June 2013, online news sites that report regularly on issues relating to
Singapore and have significant reach among readers here will require an individual licence
from the Media Development Authority (MDA). This will place them on a more consistent
regulatory framework with traditional news platforms which are already individually
licensed.
2. Under the licensing framework, online news sites will be individually licensed if they (I)
report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs*
over a period of two months, and (ii) are visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses
from Singapore each month over a period of two months. Currently, these sites are
automatically class-licensed under the Broadcasting Act. When MDA has assessed that a
site has met the criteria to be individually licensed, MDA will issue a formal notification and
work with the site to move it to the new licensing framework. Please see Annex for the
sites that MDA will be issuing licensing notifications to when the licensing framework is
launched.
3. The new Licence provides greater clarity on prevailing requirements within the Class
Licence and Internet Code of Practice, and explains what MDA would consider “prohibited
content” in the existing Internet Code of Practice, e.g. content that undermines racial or
religious harmony. As the sites are already subject to these requirements, no change in
content standards is expected to result. The Licence also makes it clear that online news
sites are expected to comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is
found to be in breach of content standards. The only other additional requirement is that
online news sites are required to put up a performance bond like all other individuallylicensed
broadcasters, and the sum of $50,000 is consistent with that required of niche TV
broadcasters.
4. These updates in the licensing framework are part of MDA’s efforts to periodically review
all policies, to ensure they are in line with industry and consumer developments. *A
“Singapore news programme” is any programme (whether or not the programme is
presenter-based and whether or not the programme is provided by a third party) containing
any news, intelligence, report of occurrence, or any matter of public interest, about any
social, economic, political, cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific or any other aspect of
Singapore in any language (whether paid or free and whether at regular interval or
otherwise) but does not include any programme produced by or on behalf of the
Government.
(from: http://www.mda.gov.sg/NewsAndEvents/PressRelease/2013/Pages/28052013.aspx
Retrieved 03 June, 2013)
Task
You are Alfred Long, the editor of SGnews’r’us, an online news website that covers
Singaporean news exclusively. Your website has 60,000 unique Singaporean viewers
every month. SGnews’r’us offers its content for free; the revenue is derived solely from
online advertising, which has been sufficient in keeping the site operational since its
inception in 2007.
After the release of this licensing information as well as subsequent clarifications, by the
government, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SGnews’r’us, Mr Jacob Abrams
has asked you to write a report, to be submitted to the Board of Directors, assessing the
implications that the new MDA guidelines will have for SGnews’r’us. Specifically, you
should consider the reasons that may have motivated this policy change. Mr Abrams, your
Chairman, has also stipulated that, while your report should not be an argument about the
relative merits of freedoms of speech and the Press, it should nonetheless consider how
the new licensing framework will affect the way that SGnews’r’us can continue to function
as an independent news website reporting Singaporean news – including what the
website’s responsibilities are, and how it should serve the public interest. In anticipation of
these new guidelines, you also need to make recommendations on what sort of changes
Sgnews’r’us should make to its approach to news reporting. Most importantly, how will
these affect the way that your readers read the news about Singapore?
Based on your report, the Board of Directors will then meet to discuss and decide on the
long-term plans of Sgnews’r’us.
Guidance notes:
1. This assignment aims to test your ability to write an analytical report which contains
sound reasoning, effective persuasion and competent writing skills.
2. Be sure to organize your information in a clear, concise and logical manner. Support
your reasoning with data, examples and illustrations. Merely stating information that you
have researched from different sources will not be adequate. There must be logical
arguments.
** You must be critical in thinking through the problems and presenting your conclusions.
Your analysis of the information that you have gathered must be sound and its
presentation persuasive.
3. In your report, you should state:
a. who requested the report, when it was requested and who you are
b. the reason the report was undertaken with some specific background data
c. how the information was gathered
d. your findings, highlighting key factors
e. your recommendations (which should follow logically from your findings)
4. You may include any additional but relevant information to the ideas that have already
been given in the scenario.
5. If you use visuals, you must label them properly; refer to them in your text and state
clearly what they represent. Failing to do this will not get you any marks for the use of
visuals.