Singapore's leading online news websites will be put under a new licensing framework that requires them to have individual licenses, the Media Development Authority said on Tuesday.
From June 1, such news websites will have to be individually licensed if they report an average of at least one article per week on the local news and current affairs over a period of two months, and have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore each month over a period of two months, based on IP addresses.
The individual licenses have to be renewed every year. Under the new framework, these sites must also put up a performance bond of 50,000 Singapore dollars (39,683 U.S. dollars), similar to that required for niche television broadcasters.
The license also makes clear that online news sites are expected to remove content that is in breach of certain standards within 24 hours, once notified to do so. Such material could cover content that is against the public interest, public security or national harmony.
Currently, most websites in Singapore are automatically covered under a class license scheme and do not need to get individual licenses.
The Media Development Authority said the framework would place leading online news websites under a "more consistent regulatory framework" with traditional news platforms like newspapers and television stations, which are individually licensed.
The authority said it will issue a formal notification if a site is deemed to meet the criteria for individual licensing.
Ten sites currently fit the criteria, with nine run by the Singapore Press Holdings and local broadcaster MediaCorp. Yahoo News is also on the list.