Media of Singapore

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The Media of Singapore refers to mass communication methods through broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet available in the city-state. Singapore's media environment is considered to be highly controlled by the government.[1][2] Comprising the publishing, print, broadcasting, film, music, digital, and IT media sectors, the media industry collectively employed about 38,000 people and contributed 1.56% to Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 with an annual turnover of S$10 billion. The industry grew at an average rate of 7.7% annually from 1990 to 2000, and the government seeks to increase its GDP contribution to 3% by 2012. [3][4]


The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts is the government's regulatory body that imposes and enforces regulation over locally produced media content. It also decides on the availability of published media from abroad. Political, regulatory and structural control over all media forms restricts and discourages criticism of the government.[5][6][7][8][9] Issues deemed to be inciting racial and religious hatred are prohibited,[10][11]and media advocating non-traditional family units and lifestyles are selectively censored.[12][13][14]

In 2018, Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 151 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index.[15]

Most of the local media are directly or indirectly controlled by the government through shareholdings of these media entities by the state's investment arm Temasek Holdings, and are often perceived as pro-government.[16] William Gibson's Disneyland with the Death Penalty described Singapore's newspapers as "essentially organs of the state",[17] while political scientist and opposition politician James Gomez has studied the role of self-censorship in restricting expression in Singapore.[16]

In 2011, 56% of 1092 respondents to a telephone poll agreed that "there is too much government control of newspapers and television", and 48% felt that "newspapers and television are biased when they report on Singapore politics, political parties and elections".[18]

Radio and television broadcasting[edit]

Television station Frequency Site Transmitted Network Status Country of region
National (7 channels)
Channel 5 5 VHF Bukit Batok 20 kW/120 kW ERP MediaCorp TV National Singapore
Channel 8 8 VHF
Channel U 28 UHF
CNA 32 UHF MediaCorp News
Suria 12 VHF MediaCorp TV12
Okto 30 UHF
Vasantham 24 UHF
International (21 channels)
TVRI 6 VHF Sekupang 20 kW/120 kW ERP Televisi Republik Indonesia Worldwide Indonesia
RCTI 43 UHF Nagoya 20 kW Media Nusantara Citra
Global TV 59 UHF
iNews TV 61 UHF
SCTV 47 UHF Surya Citra Media
Indosiar 49 UHF
antv 53 UHF Visi Media Asia
tvOne 27 UHF
MetroTV 25 UHF Media Group
Trans TV 45 UHF Trans Corp
Trans7 57 UHF
RTV 55 UHF Rajawali Corpora
Batam TV 51 UHF Jawa Pos Group
NET. 39 UHF Indika Group
TV1 3 VHF Gunung Pulai 20 kW/100 kW ERP Radio Televisyen Malaysia Malaysia
TV2 10 VHF
TV3 26 UHF 20 kW Media Prima Berhad
ntv7 42 UHF
8TV 46 UHF
TV9 44 UHF

State-owned MediaCorp owns and operates all seven free-to-air terrestrial local television channels licensed to broadcast in Singapore, as well as 14 radio channels. Radio and television stations are all government-owned entities. The radio stations are mainly operated by MediaCorp with the exception of four stations, which are operated by So Drama! Entertainment (a part of the Singapore Armed Forces) and SPH UnionWorks. The only radio station in Singapore that is entirely outside government control is the BBC Far Eastern Relay station, which broadcasts the BBC World Service locally on FM.[19]

Private ownership of TV satellite dishes is forbidden.[19]


The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act of 1974 states:

No person shall print or publish or assist in the printing or publishing of any newspaper in Singapore unless the chief editor or the proprietor of the newspaper has previously obtained a permit granted by the Minister authorising the publication thereof, which permit the Minister may in his discretion grant, refuse or revoke, or grant subject to conditions to be endorsed thereon.

— Newspaper and Printing Presses Act of 1974, Cap. 206, Sec. 21. —(1)

Section 10 of the same act gives the Minister the power to appoint the management shareholders of all newspaper companies and to control any transfers of such management shares.[20] The same section specifies that a management share equals 200 ordinary shares for "any resolution relating to the appointment or dismissal of a director or any member of the staff of a newspaper company",[20] and that the number of management shares must equal at least 1% of ordinary shares.[20] This gives the management shareholders, and by proxy the government, a minimum 66% majority in any votes regarding staffing decisions.

The print media are largely controlled by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), publisher of the flagship English-language daily, The Straits Times. SPH publishes all daily newspapers with the exception of TODAY, which is owned by MediaCorp. A United States diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks[21] quotes Chua Chin Hon, the Straits Times' US bureau chief, saying that the paper's "editors have all been groomed as pro-government supporters and are careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line", and that "the government exerts significant pressure on ST editors to ensure that published articles follow the government's line".[22]

As of 2008, there are 16 newspapers in active circulation. Daily newspapers are published in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

There are restrictions on importing foreign newspapers to Singapore, especially for politically sensitive publications. Also, under a reciprocal agreement, Malaysia's New Straits Times newspaper may not be sold in Singapore, and Singapore's Straits Times may not be sold in Malaysia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Singapore profile". BBC News. 5 September 2017.
  2. ^ Branigin, William (17 December 1990). "SINGAPORE VS. THE FOREIGN PRESS". Washington Post.
  3. ^ "Media Overview". Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. Archived from the original on 10 September 2006. Retrieved 17 September 2006.
  4. ^ "Media 21: Transforming Singapore into a Global Media City" (PDF). Media Development Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2006. Retrieved 17 September 2006.
  5. ^ "Singapore".
  6. ^ "Singapore journalist on self-censorship: we can't be controversial, we have to play the game - Mumbrella Asia". Mumbrella Asia. 10 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression in Singapore: Myth or Reality?".
  8. ^ Hoyt, Clark (3 April 2010). "Opinion | Censored in Singapore". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Impotence is a four-letter word in Singapore's media". South China Morning Post.
  10. ^ "2 foreign Christian preachers barred from speaking in Singapore for anti-Islam, anti-Buddhist comments". Channel NewsAsia.
  11. ^ "What's so funny about racial stereotypes?". The Straits Times. 2 July 2017.
  12. ^ Jaswal, Balli Kaur (21 May 2017). "The Censors' Disappearing Vibrator". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Hickey, Shane (12 July 2014). "Singapore libraries to destroy copies of gay penguin book". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Same-sex kiss cut from Les Miserables". BBC News. 13 June 2016.
  15. ^ "2018 World Press Freedom Index | Reporters Without Borders". RSF. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  16. ^ a b Gomez, James (2000). Self-Censorship: Singapore's Shame. Think Centre. ISBN 981-04-1739-X.
  17. ^ Gibson, William (September – October 1993). "Disneyland with the Death Penalty". Wired. Condé Nast (1.04). Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  18. ^[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b "Singapore country profile". London: BBC. 2 April 2011.
  20. ^ a b c " "Newspaper and Printing Presses Act".[permanent dead link]
  21. ^
  22. ^