Recently shut socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) website made almost half a million dollars in advertising revenue in a span of 17 months, a report in Channel News Asia today said.
Ai Takagi, former chief editor of TRS, has long claimed that the website is simply a way for Singaporeans to express their views. However, according to deputy public prosecutor G. Kannan, the website used advertising services by Google and Taboola which display ads alongside articles. Each view of the article, and a display ad next to it, would result in TRS receiving a certain amount on monetary revenue.
Despite Takagi's insistence that the website did not lean on ad revenue, the court was also presented with the fact that in 2013, Takagi put together a presentation called "Advertising with The Real Singapore". Meanwhile, a Straits Times article also stated that between 2 to 13 and April 2014, TRS earned more that SG$488,000 in ad revenue just from Google.
MDA first ordered TRS to suspend its operations and shut down the TRS website and all its online channels including its social media pages in May 2015 for “deliberately fabricating articles and falsely attributing them to innocent parties” and draw traffic to the site and boost revenue.
Soon after the website saw a lawsuit filed against it by SPH which resulted in TRS having to apologise for the copyright infringement. In the suit, SPH claimed that 244 of its news articles had been reproduced or substantially reproduced on “The Real Singapore” website, without SPH’s permission.
The settlement, reached on confidential terms, includes the payment to SPH of a confidential sum and the publication of an apology byTakagi, appearing on The Straits Times.