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MDA does not expect everyone to agree with its decisions: Yaacob

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim says if a decision on classifying content attracts disagreement from the public at either end of a spectrum of views, it is a good indication that MDA has managed to strike a judicious balance.

SINGAPORE: Due to the nature of their work in classifying content, Media Development Authority (MDA) officers do not expect everyone to agree with their decisions. Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said this in a written Parliamentary reply to a question by Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC Zaqy Mohamad.

Dr Yaacob said if the decision attracts disagreement from the public at either end of a spectrum of views, it is a good indication that MDA has managed to strike a judicious balance between competing interests. He pointed out that the current approach, which ensures that content regulatory standards and policies are in line with social norms and keep pace with their evolution, has worked well. 

MDA classifies and regulates content across different platforms, and publishes various Content Codes outlining the classification standards for film, videos, video games, broadcast media, publications and arts performances. The formulation of the Content Codes, as well as the decision of MDA classifiers in specific cases, involves seeking input from the community. MDA conducts regular surveys of the population to gain important insights into community views.

Dr Yaacob reiterated that later this year, MDA will be launching a Content Standards Study to assess whether its existing content standards and policies remain in line with community expectations, and whether there is a need to further harmonise the ratings system across different mediums. The last such major study was conducted in 2010 to support the work of the Censorship Review Committee.

One key finding of the survey was the broad-based support for the content regulatory standards, with 7 in 10 respondents supporting current levels of content regulation for TV, magazines, films, videos and arts performances. In addition, MDA regularly seeks the views of its advisory committees, which comprise members representing a wide cross-section of the society.

Dr Yaacob said that clearly, the public does not expect agencies to seek consultation on every single classification decision they have to make. When Content Codes are being reviewed, they are open to public consultation.

However, he says between such periods of review, it should be left to the classifiers, with input and advice from the consultative panels, to get on with the job of providing the public with sufficient information to allow them to make their own informed choices. 

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