In 2000, Singapore liberalised its decades-long restrictions on the number of media allowed to operate in the country. The move was a response to complaints that Singapore’s local media was under the thumb of the government despite being a successful and progressive modern state and an international financial hub. Media freedom did not measure up to its economic success.
The liberalisation was, however, not done in a big bang fashion. It was orchestrated in a controlled manner. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), the dominant newspaper publisher, was given licences to operate TV and radio stations. State broadcaster MediaCorp was issued a daily newspaper permit to launch the free paper Today.
That started many years of fierce head-on competition between two media giants with SPH — which already publishes several paid English and vernacular dailies — not conceding an inch with the launch of its on free sheet, Streats.