Over the past week, media has reported on how much the defunct social media website, The Real Singapore (TRS) had earned over the course of one and a half year before it was forced to close down, clocking nearly close to half a million Australian dollars in advertising revenue.
In light of the public scrutiny due to the mention by Law Minister in the parliament, there have been also individuals who say that The Online Citizen (TOC) should be earning a fair bit of advertising money, given its readership and prominence.
For sake of transparency, especially since TOC has so far being largely funded by donations from supportive members of the public, we are disclosing the amount of money earned and spent by TOC.
Below in the table, we compare the amount of advertising revenue with what is said to have been earned by TRS over the same course of time till February 2016.[table id=2 /]
Other income of TOC during this period
Donations and sale of merchandise/services – $72,705.84
Subscriptions – $7,337.78 (currently discontinued)
For expenses that TOC incurred over the same period of time:
Wages – $62,610.00
(Editors were paid $1,600 monthly, part-time writers at $1,200, interns at around 500-600, commissioned articles paid at token sum)
Hosting Fee – $12,350.61
(TOC had to upgrade its hosting service because a shared server cannot handle the amount of request that the website receives.)
FAQ from donors/supporters
TOC was split from its former holding entity, The Opinion Collaborative Limited in October 2015. After the split, TOC did not hold on to any excess money from money earned from before, therefore, it is simply barely surviving on advertising money.
TOC is currently managed by The Online Citizen Pte Limited, registered in Dec 2015.
As TOC is not yet to be registered under the MDA regulation, TOC is currently only governed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as a political association. TOC has written to PMO about the gazetting of TOC’s one man team as a political association and has received its acknowledgment, saying that they are looking into the matter. What it means to donors is that TOC has to exercise its due diligence to verify that the donor is a Singaporean to accept the donation without his/her name, however, any amount above $5000 still has to be submitted.
However, TOC would like to warn that the Media Development Agency might come after TOC at any moment to ask the company to register as a media outlet and to be subjected under the regulation. Therefore, donors are advised to have the mental preparation that the name has to be submitted in order for TOC to hold on to the money, else it has to be returned.
Bank Account Details – “The Online Citizen Pte Ltd”, Maybank Current Account, 04011108619
From 2016 onwards, there will be an annual report of finances so to be accountable for donations and expenses. Donors who pledge above $100 monthly in pateron will receive a further detailed breakdown of the financial report. (see Pateron site)