This means that Mothership will have to post a S$50,000 performance bond to MDA and be subject to a 24-hour take down notice – that is, to remove content found to be in breach of certain standards such as being in bad taste, offending religious sensitivities or relating to vice.
MDA has met up with two representatives from Mothership on 16 July 2015, and informed them that the website “has met its threshold that requires a website to be licensed under Section 8 of the Broadcasting Act”, editor Belmont Lay told media.
The owners of Mothership have expressed that they will comply with the requirements.
“If S$50,000, like an election deposit, is the price to pay for us to continue to serve our community, we shall accede to MDA’s request to register under Section 8 of the Broadcasting Act,” said managing editor Martino Tan. “We will become the 11th website to be individually licensed in Singapore.”
MDA has yet to respond to TOC on what criteria was used to evaluate Mothership’s suitability for individual licensing, or why similar websites do not fall under the ambit of the individual licensing scheme.
On 1st June 2013, 10 sites belonging to Singapore Press Holdings, MediaCorp and Yahoo were issued with this same individual licence.
Websites are required to be individually licensed if they report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs over a continuous period of two months and are visited by a monthly average of at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore over the same two months.
In July 2013, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said that the new regulation was meant to “ensure that licensees exercise their best efforts to keep their websites free of prohibited content and when there is such content, to remove it expeditiously within the timeframe of 24 hours when directed by MDA.”
He also indicated that the purpose of the regulation was to bring “greater consistency” between the regulatory frameworks for traditional and online media.