Newspaper and Printing Press Act will apply to news organizations after restructuring, Politics News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – The News and Printing Presses Act (NPPA), which regulates print media in Singapore, will apply to the news entities of the new company which will be established after the restructuring of its media activities by Singapore Press Holdings ( SPH).

All current shareholders in the management of SPH have also agreed to become founding members of the new company limited by guarantee (CLG), the Minister of Communications and Information, S. Iswaran, said on Monday May 10th.

He said: “This will ensure that our local news media will remain in the hands of trusted institutions with long term involvement in Singapore.

“When the time comes, membership will be broadened to include newer and more diverse institutions as stakeholders of the CLG.”

The 1974 law places restrictions on the ownership and control of local news organizations. Among other things, these companies are obliged to issue two categories of shares: ordinary and management.

While each ordinary shareholder cannot generally own more than 5 percent of the shares of a news company, executive shareholders have 200 times the voting power on resolutions relating to the appointment or dismissal of a director and of any staff member of these companies.

The issuance of these shares is subject to government approval, with the intention that such shares will be held by reputable and established institutions.

The managing shareholders of SPH are OCBC Bank, Great Eastern, United Overseas Bank, DBS Bank, Singtel, NTUC Income, Temasek via Fullerton Pte Ltd, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

Although the NPPA will apply to the new media company under the CLG – and not to the CLG itself – safeguards will be incorporated into the Constitution of the CLG, he added.

These will ensure that the company’s structure achieves its purpose and promotes the objectives of the NPPA framework, and that its members and directors remain committed to the stability and success of Singapore.

His ministry will lift the shareholding controls imposed on the listed SPH entity once the restructuring, which is subject to shareholder approval, is completed.

The CLG must maintain “the reputation and the high level of trust that SPH has built with generations of readers, nationally and internationally,” he said. To ensure the long-term viability of the CLG, the government is ready to provide it with funding such as digital innovation and capacity development.

“The new media company must have a long-term sustainable business model with different sources of revenue – including traditional advertising and subscription revenue, supplemented by government funding, and contributions from its managing shareholders and its members. benefactors as well as other components, ”he said.

The expectation is that the CLG makes detailed proposals on its strategic plan to develop the business. These will form the basis of government funding and support.

During the debate, Workers’ Party MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC) asked if the government is considering a “light touch” by granting NPPA licenses to Singapore-owned companies that may wish to enter the space. media.

Responding, Mr Iswaran said the issue was not whether or not NPPA restrictions existed. Instead, current circumstances are the result of technological trends that have made the print media business model more difficult.

“We have to look at it (from) an ecosystem perspective,” Mr. Iswaran said. “It is not a question of singularly pursuing one aspect, but of trying to ensure that the local media as a whole develop and be able to defend themselves against a part of the wider competition. which they face and the challenges we have discussed. “

Management actions and CLG

Under the Newspaper and Printing Press Act, news companies like Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and the new company limited by guarantee (CLG) that will take over SPH’s media activities are required to issue management actions.

These shares give executive shareholders 200 times the voting power of an ordinary shareholder on resolutions relating to the appointment of directors and staff of these companies.

The issue and transfer of these shares are subject to the approval of the Minister of Communication and Information.

The current managing shareholders of SPH are OCBC Bank, Great Eastern, United Overseas Bank, DBS Bank, Singtel, NTUC Income, Temasek via Fullerton Pte Ltd, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. All have agreed to be founding members of the new CLG.

CLGs are entities that have no share capital or shareholders, but rather have members who vouch for the liabilities of the company.

They are usually trained to conduct nonprofit activities of public or national interest and are not necessarily charities.

Some notable CLGs include universities, the Esplanade, and Gardens by the Bay.

The new CLG will operate as a revenue-seeking enterprise subject to business discipline.

However, any operating surplus will be reinvested in the media sector to reinvest in the company and its employees, rather than being distributed to shareholders as dividends. In this sense, it will be “non-profit” for its members.

CLGs have corporate status and must be registered with the Accounting and Business Regulatory Authority like other business entities and be governed by the Companies Act.

They are also subject to corporation tax and may benefit from tax deductions or exemptions.

The CLG structure will also allow SPH Media to seek funding from public and private sources having a common interest in supporting quality journalism.

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