Sunday 15 December 2013

Breakfast Network shut down

MDA seeks clarity from Breakfast Network founder
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 17 Dec 2013

THE Media Development Authority is seeking clarity from Breakfast Network founder Bertha Henson on who exactly will own and run the different online iterations of the socio-political news site.

This, after she announced yesterday that she would be shutting down the company behind the site in a move she hopes will allow her team to continue writing on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter under the moniker.

MDA said in a statement last night: "She has not clearly indicated to us who would own and run the various online iterations of Breakfast Network, when these services cease to exist under the corporate entity, Breakfast Network Pte Ltd (BNPL). We can only advise her when she has clarity herself on the next steps." MDA also refuted Ms Henson's allegations that it had been vague and late in its replies to her.

The statement was prompted by Ms Henson's announcement in a post on the Breakfast Network Facebook page yesterday that she had decided to shut down BNPL because being a corporate entity "appears to be the main sticking point with the MDA". She added that Breakfast Network is seeking clarification on whether the dissolution means it can operate on Facebook and Twitter, or whether the main website can be used again.

The saga started last month, when Breakfast Network was told it had to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification. This meant it also had to undertake not to receive any foreign funding, a move meant to guard against foreign influence on Singapore politics through the manipulation of local media platforms.

Last Tuesday, Breakfast Network announced it would not register, citing "onerous" registration forms, and proceeded to shut down its website.

This prompted the MDA to say last Friday that should Breakfast Network remain active as a company, it could not operate on any Internet platform. The site's content was not an issue but being a corporate entity, there was "greater possibility for foreign influence", the MDA added.

Breakfast Network can't go on Facebook
Site barred from operating on Net platforms: MDA
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 14 Dec 2013

SOCIO-POLITICAL site Breakfast Network must not operate on any Internet platform, including Facebook or Twitter, as it has decided not to register with the Media Development Authority (MDA).

This is because the website operates "via a corporate entity, which means there is greater possibility for foreign influence", and not because the site's content is an issue, said MDA.

The longstanding principle that politics must remain a matter "for Singapore and Singaporeans alone" is being upheld by requiring the website to register, the MDA added, and does not depart from Singapore's Internet regulatory framework.

Breakfast Network had announced on Monday it would not be registering under a class licensing Act. It was requested to do so by MDA on Nov 26. Three days later, its founder Bertha Henson asked MDA if the forms could be changed, but it replied that the forms were final.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the same day MDA told it to shut down, Breakfast Network cited reasons why it did not register. This included the need for voluntary contributors to be named in the registration forms.

MDA yesterday clarified that this was false. Instead, it was "pro bono editorial team members" who had to be listed if they were responsible for, or involved in, running and managing the site. It had informed Ms Henson of this on Dec 6.

On the same day, in response to her request for an extra month, MDA extended the registration deadline by a week to Dec 17, it revealed yesterday in an account of how events had unfolded.

The next day, Ms Henson informed MDA she would shut down the site. In a Facebook post about two hours after yesterday's MDA statement, Ms Henson said Breakfast Network would be suspending its Facebook page for now, to comply with the law.

Breakfast Network must close after not registering: MDA
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 11 Dec 2013

SOCIO-POLITICAL website Breakfast Network must shut down since it has decided not to register, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said yesterday.

"Since Breakfast Network has decided not to submit the registration form, and will therefore not be complying with the registration notification, MDA will require that Breakfast Network cease its online service," a spokesman for the media regulator said in a statement.

The regulator had set Dec 17 as the deadline for the eight-month-old site to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification.

This states that an Internet content provider "engaged in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore" will need to register with the MDA.

Breakfast Network also had to undertake not to receive foreign funding, in a move to guard against foreign influence on Singapore politics through the manipulation of local media platforms.

But in a post on Monday night, the site's owner, shareholder and editor Bertha Henson announced that she would be suspending the website's operations. Contributors will return to blogging and posting on Facebook.

Lawyers and business people had described the registration forms as "onerous", she said. "The demand to register - or else - has created a wrinkle in our barely formed plans to become a sustainable and professional outfit. Therefore, we have decided to suspend operations until we have re-strategised or at least till the amendments to the Broadcasting Act are unveiled."

Since yesterday, all Breakfast Network content had been replaced with a notice saying "kitchen closed".

In a post on Facebook later, Ms Henson pointed to "key changes" in the registration forms she was given, compared with the ones available on the MDA website. These included having to list anyone, even volunteer contributors, involved in managing or running Breakfast Network, instead of only executive committee and editorial team members.

Another sticking point was that the site would have had to keep all records and data related to it, and submit these to the MDA "when required".

The MDA said registration is not intended to crimp the growth of any media outfit, and registered sites could still receive bona fide commercial revenue, including from foreign advertisers.

"This process will not in any way affect what registered sites can publish on their websites," it said in reply to Straits Times queries.


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