We live in an era of technology and media convergence – and Singapore has just announced regulatory convergence.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) – the two bodies responsible for communications and media respectively – today confirmed that they will be merged into a new entity, the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA), from 1 April 2016.
A new Government Technology Organisation (GTO) will also be set up by 1 April 2016 to lead the Government’s digitisation and Smart Nation efforts.
What drove the move?
This step to bring together the IDA and MDA as a regulator and promoter of the converging infocomm and media space appears to be both logical and necessary.
The media and technology sectors are already converged, with new technologies and business models testing the boundaries of what is tech and what is media. A great recent example is new market entrant Netflix, which arguably sits somewhere between technology platform and TV network. And consumers are voting with their feet – they no longer draw a distinction between a “technology” service and a “media” service but, rather, think in terms of platforms, services and content.
Put simply, this move brings the approach to regulation into line with the way that businesses and consumers now see the world.
What are the objectives?
The expressed objectives of this move are as follows:
- The IMDA aims to capitalize, develop and regulate the converging infocomm and media space and to implement last August’s launch of the Infocomm Media Masterplan through 2025;
- The privacy watchdog, Personal Data Protection Commission will be part of the new IMDA to promote and regulate data in Singapore; and
- The GTO will be tasked to lead the digital transformation in the public sector (in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and big data) to support Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.
What does it mean for tech and media companies?
At first glance this looks like good news for tech and media companies, and particularly those whose business interests span both technology and media, since they will only have to deal with one regulator rather than two. Still, it is very early days, and we will be looking more closely at the implications for tech and media companies in Singapore over the coming weeks and months.