MCI's response to PQ on restrictions on use of $180 million annual funding to SPH Media Trust
Parliament Sitting on 22 November 2023
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
18. Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) whether the Government specifies restrictions in the use of the $180 million annual funding to SPH Media Trust (SMT), such as on transactions involving Mergers and Acquisitions; (b) whether the Government has information on the price paid by SMT in its acquisition of independent technology media company Tech In Asia; and (c) what measures are put in place to prevent agglomeration risks in the local media industry.
Funding for SPH Media Trust (SMT) is earmarked for three key focus areas – namely, Technology Development, Talent Development, and the Preservation of Vernacular Media. To ensure prudent use of public funds, MCI has been closely monitoring SMT’s performance and its utilisation of funding in support of these areas.
Earlier this year, SMT had informed MCI of its plans to acquire Tech in Asia (TIA) and to fund the acquisition through existing resources. As a commercial entity, SMT will have to undertake independent and sound decisions to carry out its mission, including how best to bring about its transformation. While the Government does not get involved in such decisions, we note that the acquisition supports SMT’s transformation and is aligned with the intent of Government funding. We also note that SMT and TIA will not be disclosing the financial terms of this transaction, in view of market sensitivities.
On the member’s concern about agglomeration risks, we should take a broader and more updated view of the media landscape. With the advent of social and digital media, the media industry has seen increasing fragmentation and intense competition both globally and locally, with diverse forms of content offered across a wide range of online and offline platforms. Nonetheless, as with other industries, the Government will continue to protect consumers and prevent anti-competitive practices, and will take measures to promote fair and efficient market conduct where necessary.