05 April 2006

Bloggers & Podcasting

Mr Wang's Mini-Project to List Singapore's Best Blogs received some free publicity in Mr Miyagi's TODAY column today, but that wasn't the real point of Mr Miyagi's article. The real point was about the legality of podcasting during the upcoming elections.
What's all the podding fuss about?
It seems you can blog or podcast about the polls if it's not 'explicitly political' Chip off the Blog

Wednesday • April 5, 2006
Mr Miyagi

When you see a headline that goes "Podcasting is not allowed during elections", it's as good a time as any for this column to explain podcasts.

A podcast is essentially an audio or video file you download over the Internet and listen to on your own time, either on your computer or on your media playing device, such as an MP3 player.

Now, video and audio files have been around for a while. So, what is it about podcasting that makes it so new it's off the "positive list", as described by the Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr Balaji Sadasivan?

It's in the distribution. If you are a "podcaster", you would distribute your audio and video files by hosting it on an Internet server, where it is available for public consumption/download.

In addition, and here's the rub, the hosting of your media files can be configured such that the public can "subscribe" to your offerings and any new or updated item will be automatically downloaded into the recipient's computer or media device, using software such as Apple's iTunes.

In short, you could say "podcasting" is simply the distribution of audio and video content via subscription over the Internet.

Well, to summarise the above, if you aren't a state-controlled media organisation but you nevertheless have the ability to distribute audio and video messages to a large number of many Singaporeans, then the Singapore government thinks you're a potential troublemaker. If you can't distribute to more than a handful of your own friends and relatives, then the Singapore government doesn't care.
I wrote previously about SGRally (sgrally.blogspot.com), a site that invites readers to contribute videoclips of election rallies anonymously. Now, if videoclips were to be sent in and showcased during the election period, going by Dr Balaji's words, the site would be breaching the provisions of the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Currently, the site has two blog entries, with one video clip depicting the outside of the Elections Office on Prinsep Street, as if in indication of the submissions to come when polling actually starts.

I attempted to email the author(s) of the site at the address given but received no response.

This brings me to the next point: Anonymity.

The regulations, as clarified by Dr Balaji, are targeted at individuals who "persistently promote political views", and who are hence obliged to register their sites with the Media Development Authority.

While one might say this measure makes websites play by the rules of the political game, it will be interesting to see if the author of SGRally will register himself.
Hahahaa. Fat chance. Might as well give the government a rope and say "Hang me, please." Besides if the SG Rally guy would entertain the thought of registration at all, he wouldn't have been anonoymous to begin with.
Audio files and podcasts are mere extensions of text-based blogs, and there are several blogs that purport to talk about politics. One place to start looking would be the blog, Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma (commentarysingapore.blogspot.com), which recently started a "mini-project" to list blogs "that talk about serious matters", such as "politics, economics, social issues, law, government policy and current affairs".
Oooh. My free publicity. Hope I get more nominations for serious blogs. :)
Going by Dr Balaji's statements, it seems it is all right for individual bloggers and podcasters to talk about the elections if the streaming content isn't "explicitly political" or if they do not "advertise".

Blogger "Avalon" (takingavalonapart.blogspot.com) reveals a little anecdote about her parents' voting preferences at the last elections.

"I found out my parents used to support the Opposition only because they were one of the parties' printers. Shucks, I had thought they were renegade pai-kias (bad hats) but no ... "

Is Avalon's snippet "explicitly political" or election advertising? Your guess is as good as mine.
Frankly, Mr Wang is half-minded to commit a few offences this coming election season. By doing some loud, aggressive, unmistakeable political advertising on this blog. For the PAP.

Haaa. Just to see if I will actually get prosecuted for that.

3 comments:

Singa Lion said...

Don't try it, Mr Wang. We will miss you, if you go to jail.

recruit ong said...

On the contrary singa lion, advertising for the PAP will probably win Mr Wang some national award or 杰出市民奖. Obviously the PAP realise most blogs out there aren't exactly advertising for the PAP.

Anonymous said...

a likely reaction in the event tht u do carry out ur words would be, u get chided publicly by having ur name splashed over the front page. then they try and approach ur frm behind to get u to join PAP, and few yrs down the road.. use this incident as a shameless plug.