TOC considering legal action over MDA demands to pay back ad funds

The Opinion CollaborativeIn an ongoing tussle between The Opinion Collaborative, the commercial arm of The Online Citizen, and Singapore’s media regulator over whether the independent news firm should return funds from an advertiser because the company is based overseas, TOC has said that it is considering legal action, and has escalated the matter to the Ministry of Communications & Information.

The email from The Opinion Collaborative:

Dear editors and friends of media,

In our previous letter to MDA on 24 March 2016, we have requested for MDA to clarify on its position in determining Monsoons Book Club Ltd to be a “non-commercial foreign source”, and why the funds we received for advertising were not for a “bona fide commercial purpose”.

MDA responded on 29 March, providing little clarification. We have again asked MDA on 2 April to clarify on specific points of its determination. As of end 4 April, MDA have not replied. We have now escalated the issue to Minister MCI, as per provisions in the Broadcasting Act. We are also considering legal recourse.

While we have collated documents that demonstrate MDA’s “determination” of MBC Ltd’s status as a non-commercial entity to be false, MDA has not produced one iota of evidence to prove its case.

MDA’s unjustified actions contains serious allegations against MBC Ltd as a bona fide commercial entity. They also contain serious allegations about TOC Ltd’s integrity and reputation by suggesting that we are not a law abiding company. Such assertions must be duly questioned, if companies lawfully registered in Singapore and overseas are to uphold their business status, and if Singapore hopes to have any standing in the international business community.

We also question MDA’s level of expertise in attaining its “determinations” on this case. And finally, we question MDA’s complete disregard for timeliness in this matter, as MDA had more than sufficient time to act since our declaration of MBC Ltd as a foreign advertiser in May 2015.

The points of clarity we are seeking from MDA are detailed in our letter to MDA dated 2 April (see attached), and highlighted below:

a. Who are the personnel in MDA who were part of the process to arrive at the “determination” stated in MDA’s letter of 24 March 2016?
b. Was the Minister, MCI involved in this “determination”?
c. Were personnel from MCI also involved in the “determination”; and if so, who were these personnel?
d. What factors, evidence and alleged material facts were considered by MDA and/or MCI in arriving at this questionable “determination”?
e. What specific evidence did MDA and/or MCI consider in Singapore and the UK concerning MBC Ltd?
f. What evidence does MDA and/or MCI have in possession, custody and power to substantiate MDA’s contention that MBC Ltd is an NGO and not a bona fide commercial organisation?
g. What procedure did MDA and/or MCI embark upon in arriving at this “determination”?
h. What were MDA’s reasons for the long delay in its determination of the issue as to MBC Ltd’s fund provision to TOC Ltd?

Source: email


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