Circulation Of Foreign Newspapers In Singapore

03/08/2006

The Government has given notice to the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), a declared foreign newspaper under the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (NPPA) that it will have to comply with the conditions required of offshore newspapers before it can be circulated in Singapore .

2.     These conditions, as stipulated under Section 23 of the NPPA, will also be re-instated for some offshore newspapers which were previously exempted from them.

Background

3.     Since 1990, offshore newspapers (within the meaning of Section 23 of the NPPA), unless exempted, have to have a permit to circulate in Singapore . This permit can be issued subject to conditions under Section 23 (3) of the NPPA.

4.     Under Section 24 of the NPPA, the Minister may allow declared foreign newspapers (defined as those engaging in the domestic politics of Singapore ) to continue circulation in Singapore and this approval may also be granted subject to conditions.

5.     The NPPA serves to reinforce the Government's consistent position that it is a privilege, and not a right, for foreign newspapers to circulate in Singapore . They do so as foreign observers of the local scene and should not interfere in the domestic politics of Singapore . Hence, foreign newspapers seeking to circulate in Singapore need to comply with the provisions in the NPPA.

Far Eastern Economic Review

6.     On 26 December 1987 , FEER was gazetted as a declared foreign newspaper for interfering in the domestic politics of Singapore .

7.     Subsequently, FEER was also classified as an offshore newspaper following the amendment to the NPPA on 30 August 1990 , and was subjected to the conditions in Section 23 of the NPPA.

8.     In December 2004, FEER changed from a weekly to a monthly publication. As a result of this change, FEER ceased to be an offshore newspaper. Hence, it was allowed to circulate in Singapore without having to comply with the conditions for offshore newspapers. However, FEER remains a declared foreign newspaper. It is an anomaly for FEER, which is a declared foreign newspaper, not to be subjected to the conditions that apply to the other declared foreign newspaper, namely Wall Street Journal Asia, (which is still an offshore newspaper) and other offshore newspapers.

9.     Hence, the Government has given FEER notice that, with effect from 11 September 2006 , it will have to comply with the requirements of an offshore newspaper circulating in Singapore , which means:

a) appointing a person within Singapore authorised to accept service of any notice or legal process on behalf of the publisher; and

b)  submitting a security deposit of S$200,000.

10.     There will be no change to FEER's current circulation cap of 10,000 copies.

Offshore Newspapers

11.     Since 1990, offshore newspapers have to comply with the permit requirements under Section 23 of the NPPA. But s ome of these offshore newspapers have been granted exemption from the provisions previously. Since then, there have been changes in the media scene . In view of these developments, MICA has reviewed the exempt status of offshore newspapers circulating in Singapore .

12.     On review, MICA has given notice to lift the exemption granted to the International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Newsweek and TIME. These newspapers now regularly report on political issues in the region and Singapore , and have significant circulations in Singapore . Their exempt status should cease upon the expiry of their current permits given under Section 21 of the NPPA . They will thereafter be required to comply with conditions for the circulation of an offshore newspaper under Section 23 of the NPPA.

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS
3 AUGUST 2006

Contact person: Ms Quek Ai Choo
Manager, Corporate Communications
DID: (65) 6837 9841
Fax: (65) 6837 9837
E-mail: quek_ai_choo@mica.gov.sg

Comments From Ms K Bhavani, Press Secretary To The Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts

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