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Programme Advisory Committees Commend Improvements to Public Service Broadcast Programmes

last updated 01 December 2016

Greater diversity, better quality, improved programme formats and audience engagement among positives highlighted by the committees in latest report.

Dated: 26 September 2016

Background

IMDA’s Programme Advisory Committees (PAC) have issued a report consolidating their observations and feedback on content standards and the quality of broadcast content in Singapore’s four official languages, particularly local Public Service Broadcast (PSB) productions. The committees comprise members of the public across various age groups, ethnicities, occupations, areas of interest and specialisation.

This report contains PAC observations for the period of August 2014 to March 2016.

Snapshot of Key Observations/ Feedback

1.     Greater diversity and improvements in production quality in dramas, infotainment programmes

  1. Dramas
  • The PAC observed that there were improvements in storytelling standards, cinematography and editing techniques for the dramas produced during the period in review. In addition, the committees observed that there was a wider range of themes and genres in the dramas they reviewed, including themes such as active aging and, courtroom issues and genres such as psychological thrillers, which were not attempted as much previously. Long-form dramas such as 118 (Channel 8) and Tanglin (Channel 5) were also a welcome addition as they provided platforms to present topical issues in a light-hearted manner.

  • While feedback on dramas produced during the period in review was largely positive, the PACs felt that some producers could imbue more depth and balance into their stories.

  1. Infotainment programmes
  •  The PACs noted that there was also an improvement in the range of info programmes, moving beyond the perennial favourite subject of food to include local history and health.

  • SG50 programmes released during the period in review were commended by the PACs for their research and conveying important messages to viewers.

  • The PACs continued to urge broadcasters to offer a more comprehensive coverage of issues in current affairs programmes, particularly its magazine-styled shows.  The committees called upon magazine-styled current affairs shows such as On the Red Dot (Channel 5) and Ethiroli (Vasantham) to deliver stronger feature stories and analysis, noting some unevenness across episodes in terms of depth. Producers of Malay current affairs programmes were also encouraged to widen the range of topics covered to include national interest issues such as national development, economic restructuring, and enterprise and innovation.  In addition, both Indian and Malay PACs felt that it was important to have a more diverse discussion panel and competent hosting of forum-based current affairs programmes.

  •  While there were info programmes for the silver generation, the PACs requested for more of such programmes, and suggested that producers crowd-source ideas from seniors.  

2.     PSB programmes with more innovative programming formats and better audience engagement

  • The period in review saw MDA supporting more than 20 programmes from MediaCorp and StarHub under its PSB Contestable Funds Scheme (PCFS). The PACs commended these programmes for their originality and for injecting diversity into the PSB landscape. Some PCFS-supported programmes were also developed into transmedia content like comic books and these efforts paved the way for better audience engagement.

  • With the exception of a few, the PACs lauded PCFS-supported programmes for their production standards with good research, scripting and technical values.

  • The PACs recognised strides taken by broadcasters to meet changing consumption patterns, including tapping on social media to discuss and promote programmes, as well as enhancing  their over-the-top (OTT) services (such as Mediacorp’s Toggle)  to offer a better mobile viewing experience.

3.     In-programme advertising should be clearly distinguishable, prevalence of  health supplement advertisements on minority radio stations an  area of concern

  • The PAC also reviewed public feedback relating to broadcast programmes that were brought to MDA’s attention.  For example, some members of the public had highlighted that some advertising segments on Channel 5 and 8 were inserted just before a programme’s end credits. These segments featured the programme’s characters promoting products on the same sets as if they were part of the programme.  While the PACs did not have objections to the use of a programme’s artistes or sets for advertorials, they felt that such advertising segments should be clearly distinguishable from the rest of the programme.

  • The Malay and Indian PACs observed a high frequency of health supplement  advertisements on radio stations Warna and Oli. The committees expressed concerns that as these advertisements were aired in the late morning and early afternoon and specifically targeted at homemakers and the elderly who may be more susceptible to resorting to using these products for self-treatment instead of seeking professional help for their medical conditions.

The full report can be found here.