Wednesday, 29 July 2015

That escalated quickly: Bertha Henson's new website gets MDA's attention

Former SPH journalist Bertha Henson announced the launch of her new website The Middle Ground on her blog on June 11.

Less than two months later, she posted this on Facebook today:



I'm not sure why she says "only one month in operation" since according to her blog, The Middle Ground started on June 15.

Today is July 29. So it has been more than a month.

Also, the domain was created on May 5.

Why does the time frame matter so much?

Because according to MDA, under the 2013 Online News Licensing Scheme, online news sites will be individually licensed if they:
  • report an average of at least one article per week on Singapore’s news and current affairs 1​​ over a period of two months, and
  • are visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month over a period of two months.

So if The Middle Ground has been in operation for only less than two months, MDA seems to be jumping the gun a bit.

But the thing is, MDA IS NOT ASKING THE MIDDLE GROUND TO BE LICENSED UNDER THIS SCHEME.

People seem to get confused by this, even on Henson's own Facebook page.



The same confusion happened with Henson's previous website, the Breakfast Network, in December 2013.

The Government has tried to clarify this:
Unlike Yahoo!, the Breakfast Network was never required to obtain a licence under the Online News Licensing Scheme, which was introduced in June 2013.

MDA simply required Breakfast Network to register under the Class Licence Framework.

As if the two similar-sounding regulations aren't confusing enough, the Class Licence Framework itself has two categories of class licence: automatic and via registration.

According to the Government:
Breakfast Network was already automatically class licensed.

But since Breakfast Network is a political website operated by corporate entity and therefore susceptible to foreign funding, MDA required it to register and to undertake not to receive foreign funding
.

In the end, Henson decided not to register the Breakfast Network. She shut down the site and explained the situation on Facebook.

But this time with The Middle Ground, she has said in her Facebook post: "Yes, we'll register."

Not "licence".


UPDATE:

Amazing. MSM reporting is to pick up from my FB timeline. Never even try getting hold of me. Next time, I will LIE on my...

Posted by Bertha Henson on Wednesday, July 29, 2015


2017 UPDATE: The Middle Ground to shut down

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