Award winning content from Singapore includes factual entertainment series Very!’s Chasing Happiness, which won a Rockie at the BANFF World Media Festival in 2013; and The Great Elephant Gathering by Beach House Pictures, which reaped a Silver Medal Award for the Nature & Wildlife category at the New York Festivals 2013.
Moving from providing services-for-hire to co-owning and creating original content, Singapore media companies have also proven to be strong co-production partners. An example is Serangoon Road, where Singapore-based Infinite Studios partnered with HBO Asia, Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Western Australia to co-produce HBO Asia’s first original series. Serangoon Road is a ten episode hour-long detective series set against the tumultuous backdrop of 1960s Singapore. Other recent co-productions include Kakadu, a documentary series on Kakadu National Park in Australia by Beach House Pictures, Northern Pictures and ABC.
Beyond producing content for television, more producers are exploring transmedia storytelling and new formats, extending the TV experience to multiple platforms. Notable multi-media content created include Mediacorp’s drama 96°C Café and Beach House Pictures’ Hidden Cities Extreme, a travel and adventure series. 96°C Café was first telecast online on xinmsn.com and continued its run as a 20-episode series on free-to-air (FTA) TV; while Hidden Cities Extreme had viewers engaged on its Facebook page which shared videos, images and upcoming episodes of the programme.
In addition, being strategically located in Asia, with excellent content production, aggregation, distribution and broadcasting capabilities and a burgeoning creative community, Singapore has become the natural home and springboard to other parts of Asia for some of the world’s most established global media companies. They include AXN, BBC, CNBC Asia, Discovery Asia, FremantleMedia Enterprises, HBO Asia, MTV Asia, Nickelodeon and Walt Disney Television.
Public Service Broadcast
IMDA supports the production of Public Service Broadcast (PSB) programmes, which serve the following national and social objectives:
- Promote social values important to Singapore and Singaporeans, e.g. family, community, social inclusiveness and cohesiveness; and catering to special-interest groups, such as the elderly and youth
- Celebrate our culture and heritage and/or promote cross-cultural awareness (including foreign cultures and heritage).
- Promote racial and religious harmony;
- Promote the Singapore identity (including Singaporeans’ responsibilities as global citizens);
- Stimulate knowledge and learning, (including factual and educational programmes targeting children, youth and the general population); and
- Foster an informed society, through news, information and analysis of current affairs that increase understanding of the world.
The provision of PSB programmes is guided by its vision to foster a connected society through quality, engaging and informative public service content with reach and impact and the mission to inform, educate and engage Singaporeans by supporting the development of quality content.
IMDA supports the production of locally-produced PSB programmes as well as the acquisition of foreign programmes in a range of genres that cater to the public’s diverse viewing interests. These include news, current affairs, info-education, infotainment, arts & culture, drama, sports, children, elderly, variety and minority-language programmes.
Programmes are telecast across Mediacorp’s seven free-to-air (FTA) television channels in Singapore’s four official languages and also available on Mediacorp’s online service, Toggle (www.toggle.sg). With the launch of the PSB Contestable Fund Schemes in July 2012, Singaporeans can expect to watch PSB programmes on more platforms beyond FTA, such as on StarHub’s E City and SuperSports Arena channels in 2014.
IMDA also supports the provision of a wide range of PSB programmes on a number of community and special interest radio stations as well. These stations include Ria 89.7FM, Warna 94.2FM (Malay language), Oli 96.8FM (Tamil language), 938LIVE (news), Symphony 924 (arts) and CAPITAL 95.8FM (dialect news for the elderly).
Examples of PSB programmes can be found here
While PSB programmes have generally performed well in terms of viewership and public satisfaction, in a digital environment, more needs to be done to extend the reach and deepen the impact of PSB programmes in step with changing media consumption habits. An eight member PSB Review panel was set up in 2010 to review improvements to the delivery of PSB programmes and recommend ways to maximise its reach and impact. The PSB Review Panel submitted its recommendations to the Ministry of Communications and Information (then Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts) in March 2012.
The Panel noted that though there is public affinity with PSB programmes, media consumption habits of local audiences have changed as a result of digitisation. More media choices and increasing ease of access to global content have also led to audience fragmentation in Singapore. Considering these factors, the Panel recommended that the PSB framework be strengthened so that it will remain relevant and appealing to the public. The quality and accessibility of PSB content must also be continually enhanced to meet these challenges.
In July 2012, the Government announced its acceptance of the majority of the Panel’s recommendations to enhance the quality and increase the reach of PSB programmes. A five-year (FY2012 to FY2016) budget of S$630 million was allocated to enhance the quality of programmes on FTA TV. PSB support was also extended to non-FTA local platforms such as Internet TV and pay TV; and to create sustained training plans for talent development. In addition, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, announced in Parliament on 8 March 2013 that the Government would invest another S$182 million over the next four years (FY2013 to FY2016) to support more locally-produced documentaries and current affairs programmes. Key initiatives under the revised PSB framework launched in July 2012 include:
- Programme pilots for PSB productions
IMDA introduced dedicated funding to develop programme pilots in order to gauge audience reception and gather feedback for programmes before a broadcaster determines if a full series is to be produced.
Examples of pilot-tested programmes which resulted in a full series produced include Channel 5’s Mata Mata, Channel 8’s Recruit Dairies, Suria’s Di Luar Garisan, Vasantham’s Veethi Varai and okto’s Twinadoes.
- PSB Contestable Funds Scheme (PCFS)
PCFS helps extend the reach of PSB content by spurring production on multiple broadcast platforms; and raise quality and encourage innovation in the creation of PSB content.
For more information, please click here.
- The Revised Public Service Broadcast (PSB) Rights Framework
IMDA will accord ownership of original PSB content to their creators, while ensuring that the public interest aims of PSB continue to be met. In the past, the copyright to PSB programmes generally rested with the financiers, which in most cases was MDA. Creators of PSB programmes, such as local production companies and Mediacorp’s in-house production units, would have to seek permission from the rights owner to exploit any of these rights.
This revised rights arrangement is an important step that will boost Singapore’s production industry as it enables our production companies to own, and be in a position to better exploit their assets.
Find out more here.
MDA has put in place a framework to ensure accountability and effectiveness in the use of PSB funds:
- Feedback is gathered from the public and relevant stakeholders to ensure that issues important to local viewers are used to guide the development of PSB programmes. This includes consultation with IMDA’s community-based programme advisory committees;
- Public surveys are conducted to ascertain responses to PSB. For instance, surveys are conducted to measure public satisfaction with the quality and engagement value of PSB programmes;
- Viewership is measured; and
- Engagement with Mediacorp to identify areas of improvement based on stakeholder feedback and performance measurement results.
In 2012, 71 percent of respondents indicated that their satisfactory level with PSB was high, up from 60 percent in 2011.
The PSB Contestable Funds Scheme (PCFS) helps extend the reach of PSB content by spurring production on multiple broadcast platforms; and raise quality and encourage innovation in the creation of PSB content. Click here
for more information.
IMDA is calling for the submission of Proposals for the Public Service Media (PSM) Digital Partnership Fund aimed at supporting collaborations or partnerships between Singapore media companies and regional/international partners to produce compelling and innovative public service content for Singaporeans and audiences beyond. Click here for more information.
Click here for examples of PSB programmes on Channel 5, Channel 8, Channel U, Okto, Suria, Vasantham, Channel NewsAsia.