Despite public or private funding support, the recently established not-for-profit SPH Media Trust (SMT) has exercised editorial independence, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo.
Mrs Teo said in her Parliament speech on Feb 15 that SMT will be receiving government funding of up to S$180 million annually over the next five years to ensure it can sustain current operations amid its critical transition period.
SMT branched off from mainboard-listed company Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes The Straits Times, Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Tamil daily Tamil Murasu and Malay daily Berita Harian, among other titles.
SMT spun off from SPH due to the changing reading patterns globally and decreasing advertising revenue in previous years.
However, the funding support would not change SMT’s practice of editorial independence, said Mrs Teo.
She said there was “no use” to fund SMT if there were no readers.
“It is precisely because people are reading, viewing and hearing our mainstream media that they deserve to be supported,” said Mrs Teo.
“It is because the public sees them as trusted sources of news that we must do all we can to keep them as viable propositions.”
Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) also asked if the need to use public funds to support SMT was due to consumers not “entirely trusting the local media,” thus refraining from purchasing print media or subscribing to online ones.
He asked if the local media marketplace was “generally competitive.”
Mrs Teo then responded that news content can be acquired free of charge, “but we will choose where we spend our time in order to get trusted news.”
“It is not me claiming that the local mainstream media is trusted… (Readers) are asked these questions through surveys conducted by institutions that have good standing,” she added. /TISG
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