SINGAPORE: The Info-communications Media Development Authority Bill was passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 16), establishing the merger between the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and Media Development Authority (MDA).
The aim is to better address challenges and opportunities of a rapidly-changing world, where infocomm technologies and media content have increasingly blended together.
Nowadays, telecom companies offer their own Pay-TV content while terrestrial broadcasters fight for eyeballs in the online space, against international platforms like Netflix and Amazon. That is why the Government finds it timely to set up a converged developer and regulator - the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) - to manage the previously distinct industries.
Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim elaborated: "IMDA will build on the success of IDA and MDA, and help develop Singapore as a future-ready infocomm media hub. Consumers will also be a key focus for IMDA, ensuring that they continue enjoying a variety of infocomm media services at good service standards and competitive prices.
“As a converged organisation, IMDA will be better poised to address the talent needs and develop professional skills for the infocomm media sector. It will do this by building interests and cultivating talents from young and introducing our students and young adults to the exciting world of infocomm media."
Content producers and tech companies could also exploit the synergies offered. For example, a film animation company interested in producing merchandise for its film can - with input from the new IMDA - use IDA Labs to learn more about coding and robotics. That could allow the company to prototype toys that can be launched in conjunction with the films.
Conversely, a tech start-up from IDA can leverage Creators' Space, working with online content creators to develop compelling visuals for a crowdfunding campaign.
The minister also faced questions on how the new entity would better deal with today's challenges, like support for freelancers, censorship, personal data protection and public service broadcasting - such as with the decision to show the Olympics “live”.
Dr Yaacob replied: “The Minister for Culture, Community and Youth has stated that the decision on whether and how to broadcast the Olympic Games should remain a commercial one. I agree that the parties should aim to conclude the negotiations early, especially given the significant interest by our public.
“However, we cannot compel parties to reach a deal that does not make commercial sense, or that results in escalating content prices in the long run. MCCY and MCI will continue to monitor the content market developments closely, but nevertheless, I'm glad that in the end, the parties eventually reached a deal that allowed Singaporeans to watch the Olympics ‘live’, cheer our Team Singapore athletes on and join in celebrating Joseph Schooling's historic achievement."
Dr Yaacob said the longer-term plan is for IMDA to develop a holistic approach to regulation and competition management, through streamlined rules and regulation.