In the latest Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) financial performance release published last Friday (July 15), the government-controlled newspaper The Straits Times saw nearly 10% loss in hardcopy circulation. According to an estimate on the chart provided on its media release, the state propaganda mouthpiece lost around 30,000 copies in daily average circulation compared to a year ago in 2015. The actual figures were not given as the SPH finds it embarrassing the state paper is not doing well.
Singapore’s media freedom ranking worsened to 154th in 2016 due to its strict government control over the editorial. SPH articles are often pro-government and have in the past made serious defamatory allegations against government critics. Earlier in February, SPH apologised and made an undisclosed compensation to former The Real Singapore editor Yang Kai Heng for a defamatory article based off unverified sources.
The censorship authority, Media Development Authority, is coming down heavy on independent news outlets and in recent years, created new media regulations to deter Singaporeans from accessing free media and criticisms. In 2007, the Singapore government created an online group paying internet trolls to defame critics and create a fake ruling party supporter base. One such effort is the Fabrications About the PAP Facebook group which often spread falsehoods and defamatory allegations about government critics.