MP Dennis Tan

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Communications and Information whether there is any Government oversight over foreign countries purchasing advertising or producing content for local consumption in mainstream and alternative media including having articles pertaining to their countries, which are unrelated to the promotion of tourism.

Mrs Josephine Teo: Foreign countries are allowed to advertise or produce media content pertaining to their countries for local consumption, for topics such as the promotion of tourism or education. However, our local media should not be used by foreign countries as platforms to promote their political agenda or to influence our domestic affairs. Matters of governance and domestic politics are for Singaporeans alone to decide. Hence, we have in place a number of legislative safeguards to mitigate the risk of foreign influence across various media platforms. 

For local newspapers, the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (NPPA) prohibits SPH Media Trust from receiving funding from foreign sources for any purpose, without prior approval from the Minister. Funds for purposes other than bona fide commercial ones are prohibited.

For Free-to-Air TV and Radio, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s TV and Radio Advertising and Sponsorship Code prohibits advertisements or sponsored programmes which are directed towards any political end. 

For online content, under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification, IMDA can require Internet Content Providers (ICPs) that engage in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political issues relating to Singapore to be registered, and to undertake not to receive foreign funding except subscription and advertising revenue for bona fide commercial purposes. 

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) has a Code of Practice for Transparency of Online Political Advertisements. Under this Code of Practice, prescribed internet intermediaries, including certain social media platforms, must ensure that online political advertisements communicated in Singapore carry disclosure notices to inform end-users of the person(s) or organisation(s) that requested to place or paid for the political advertisements.

The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA) also provides the Government with the powers to issue directions to deal with online content or accounts that are part of a hostile information campaign, such as by preventing such content from being viewed in Singapore.

Our local media play the important role of reporting news and opinions objectively and have a special responsibility to Singapore and Singaporeans. They are aware of this responsibility and are expected to do their utmost to guard against any attempts at foreign influence.

Ministry of Communications and Information
8 November 2022


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