Wednesday 20 January 2016

IDA, MDA merging to seize new opportunities

New entity IMDA will also deepen regulatory capabilities for converged sector
By Irene Tham, Tech Editor, The Straits Times, 19 Jan 2016

The infocomm and media authorities will merge later this year to better position Singapore to seize new opportunities in these converging areas.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) will become the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) in the second half of this year.

To learn more about the reorganisation of IDA and MDA, you can refer here: media release and Minister Yaacob's opening speech
Posted by Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Sunday, January 17, 2016

MDA chief executive officer Gabriel Lim will helm the IMDA.

The restructuring follows the launch last August of the Infocomm Media 2025 plan, which charts the ways technology will be used to transform how people live, learn, work and play through 2025.

Driverless vehicles, underground data centres and home-integrated sensors are some of the ideas outlined in the 10-year plan, the first to take into account how media and infocomm interests have become intertwined.

"Here in Singapore, we are excited by the new opportunities thrown up by the convergence of the infocomm and media sectors," said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

He was delivering the opening address at a forum on "Internet of Things in Smart Sustainable Cities: A New Age of Smarter Living" at Suntec Singapore.

The forum was organised by the International Telecommunication Union and the IDA.

Touching on the Infocomm Media 2025 plan - which the new IMDA will implement - Dr Yaacob said it will unleash the power to transform Singapore's economy, its service and manufacturing industries, and government services.

The newly merged entity will also deepen the regulatory capabilities for a converged infocomm media sector.

The Government notes a trend of more companies offering, say, content on TV as well as on mobile devices like laptops, tablets and phones.

Dr Yaacob said: "How do you ensure that both the TV and the mobile device are subjected to the same set of rules, to ensure a level playing field and to safeguard consumer interests across all ages?

"Rather than waiting for the trend to supersede us, we might as well take advantage of what is happening now and put together a converged regulator that can actually deal with that environment."

"This is the right time for us to bring together both IDA Singapore and Media Development Authority, Singapore," says Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim as he explains the rationale behind their restructuring into two new bodies.
Posted by 938LIVE on Sunday, January 17, 2016

IMDA will also look into amending legislation such as the Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act and Films Act.

For instance, decisions will be made on whether Singtel and StarHub need to apply for just one licence in the converged telecoms and media space, and whether online video streaming services like Netflix need to apply for a licence.

"We're looking at the legislation keenly now. Whatever work we have started on our policy changes will continue," he said.

The Personal Data Protection Commission will come under IMDA to ensure that consumers' data is protected even as it is being analysed for, say, targeted marketing to drive business goals.

A Government Technology Organisation (GTO) will be set up in the second half of this year to lead the Government's digitisation efforts. It will take over the heavy engineering functions of IDA's Government Chief Information Office, which will be dissolved.

Its engineers will also support the roll-out of smart nation projects including driverless vehicles and home-integrated sensors.

IDA managing director Jacqueline Poh will head the new GTO.

IDA-MDA merger will ensure fairness to all with streamlining of laws: Experts
By Irene Tham, The Straits Times, 19 Jan 2016

The biggest benefit from the merger of Singapore's infocomm and media regulators is the streamlining of laws to ensure fairness to all without strangling innovation, said lawyers and companies.

Singapore's media laws now subject local brick-and-mortar content distributors - including Singtel and StarHub - to far stricter regulations than overseas players that provide content online.

The latter include Apple iTunes, Google Play and Netflix, which have set up e-stores in Singapore.

But going forward, the new Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) - from the merger of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) - will oversee the amendment of the laws, which have been under review since 2012.

Lawyer Rajesh Sreenivasan, a technology and telecoms partner at Rajah & Tann, said the role of the enlarged regulator is significant as threats to the traditional media business have come from the Internet players.

"IMDA will now be able to provide regulatory oversight and analyse the impact of such players across the media, telecoms and IT sectors in Singapore holistically," he said.

"It will lead to the streamlining of the legislative and licensing framework governing infocommunications and media industry players."

Singtel group chief executive Chua Sock Koong concurred, saying the merger is timely and will help accelerate its effort to innovate in both sectors.

"The new IMDA is well-positioned to drive the national innovation agenda and ensure a consistent regulatory framework," she said.

Other companies have also given the merger the thumbs up.

StarHub chief executive Tan Tong Hai said: "It is no longer possible to draw a clear line between the infocommunications and media spaces. The (merger) of IDA and MDA is certainly moving in the right direction, especially as Singapore evolves into a smart nation."

Mr Vignesa Moorthy, chief executive of ViewQwest, said: "The merger is a sign of the times where you can no longer separate content from technology. The two must go hand in hand."

The fibre broadband service provider recently started selling solutions for smart homes.

Veteran local entrepreneur David Ng, now boss of six-month-old mobile game start-up goGame, said: "The converged agency will have a fuller view of the challenges facing the industry when setting policies."

This will in turn allow it to respond decisively to opportunities and challenges when they arise, especially in the burgeoning mobile game creation business, he added.

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