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    Jan 19, 2016

    IDA and MDA to merge as IMDA

    THE infocomm and media authorities here will merge later this year to better position Singapore to seize new opportunities in these converging areas.

    The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) will become the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) in the second half of this year.

    MDA chief executive officer Gabriel Lim will helm the new IMDA.

    The restructuring follows last August's launch of the Infocomm Media 2025 plan, which charts the ways technology will be used to transform how people live, learn, work and play through 2025.

    Driverless vehicles, underground data centres and home-integrated sensors are some of the ideas outlined in the 10-year plan, the first to take into account how media and infocomm interests have become intertwined.

    "Here in Singapore, we are excited by the new opportunities thrown up by the convergence of the infocomm and media sectors," said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

    He was delivering the opening address at a forum on the Internet of Things in Smart Sustainable Cities: A New Age of Smarter Living at Suntec Singapore. The event was organised by the International Telecommunication Union and IDA.

    Touching on the Infocomm Media 2025 plan - which the new IMDA will implement - Dr Yaacob said it will unleash the power to transform Singapore's economy, its service and manufacturing industries as well as government services.

    The newly merged entity will also deepen the regulatory capabilities for a converged infocomm media sector.

    The Government notes a trend of more companies offering, say, content on TV, as well as mobile devices like laptops, tablets and phones.

    Dr Yaacob said: "How do you ensure that both the TV and the mobile device are subjected to the same set of rules, to ensure a level playing field and to safeguard consumer interests across all ages?

    "Rather than waiting for the trend to supercede us, we might as well take advantage of what is happening now and put together a converged regulator that can actually deal with that environment."

    IMDA will also look into amending legislation such as the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act.

    For instance, decisions will be made on whether Singtel and StarHub need to apply for just one licence in the converged telecom and media space, and whether online video streaming services like Netflix need to apply for a licence.

    "We're looking at the legislation keenly now. Whatever work we have started on our policy changes will continue," he said.

    The Personal Data Protection Commission will come under IMDA to ensure that consumers' data is safeguarded even as it is being analysed for, say, targeted marketing to drive business goals.

    A new Government Technology Organisation (GTO) will also be set up in the second half of this year to lead the Government's digitisation efforts.

    It will take over the heavy engineering functions of IDA's Government Chief Information Office, which will be dissolved.

    Its engineers will also support the rollout of smart nation projects including driverless vehicles and home-integrated sensors.

    IDA managing director Jacqueline Poh will head the new GTO.