The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that it has not disbursed any of the $900 million funds it has committed to SPH Media Trust (SMT) yet.
SMT's statement about its inflated circulation figures
In February 2022, the ministry announced that it would commit up to S$900 million in funding, or S$180 million annually, to SMT for the next five years.
This was to sustain SMT and its operations while it transitioned into a non-profit entity during Singapore Press Holdings' restructuring.
In return, SMT is required to provide progress updates to MCI on a half-yearly basis, and its performance will be closely monitored by the ministry during the five-year period.
On Jan. 9, 2023, SMT wrote in a statement that an internal review found that its daily circulation figures had been inflated by between 85,000 and 95,000 copies daily across all of its publications.
SMT followed up with a statement on Jan. 20, 2023, providing more details about the inflated circulation figures and added that the board has asked its audit and risk committee to further investigate the matter.
MCI has not disbursed any funds to SMT
In response, an MCI spokesperson noted SMT's Jan. 20 statement, the steps SMT has taken to deal with the matter, and that the audit and risk committee have been tasked to further investigate the inflated circulation figures.
"MCI has requested for SPH Media Holdings Board to share these findings when ready and expects full cooperation on this," the spokesman said.
The ministry will also be conducting its own review to see if the inflated circulation figures would have affected their previous decision to fund SMT, as well as the amount that the government had committed to funding, according to the spokesperson.
"We have not disbursed any of these funds to SMT to date," said the spokesperson. "We will share our findings in due course."
Top image by Ahmad Shahir from Google Maps.