Media regulator leans on The Independent to prevent foreign backing

The Independent logo

Soon-to-launch Singapore news and current affairs website The Independent has been asked by the city-state’s media regulator to get a license that would prevent foreign backing of the firm.

The Media Development Authority was quoted in a story in the Straits Times saying it had “received specific information which gives it cause for concern over foreign interest to fund The Independent”.

The Independent must now register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification, and has agreed to do so.

The website’s owners have said they are 100 per cent locally owned, and posted a response to the MDA’s mandate on their Facebook page today, which read:

The Board and core team behind The Independent consists of Singaporeans. There is no foreigner in this team, nor has there ever been. The identities of The Independent’s core team have been posted on its website since June 2013.

The Independent is owned by Protegesoft, a local firm. One of its directors is the website’s managing editor Kumaran Pillai, the former editor of The Online Citizen, a free-speech blog.

The MDA said the move “will prevent The Independent from being controlled by, or coming under the influence of, foreign entities or funding, and ensure that Singapore politics remain a matter for Singaporeans alone.”

The regulator added that the move was not designed to curb The Independent’s reporting style.

The Independent is positioned as an online newspaper that occupies the middle ground between the mainstream press, which tends to be pro-government, and the blogging community, who are mainly anti-establishment.

In an interview with Mumbrella on The Independent’s editorial approach today, P N Balji, the title’s consulting editor said: “When reporting about government issues, we will argue the case from both sides and come up with our own conclusion – which will not necessarily be pro-government.”

The Independent is to officially launch on 9 August.


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