Dated: 26 February 2003
The Programmes Advisory Committee (PAC) released its eighth Annual Report today, for the period March 2002 to February 2003. The Committee provides feedback and advice to the Media Development Authority and broadcasters on programme range, quality and standards.
The PAC was pleased that there was an overall improvement in the quality and standard of info-educational programmes. They found programmes like Beyond The Façade (CNA), SecretWorlds (Ch i), Singaporeans In China (Ch 8) and Itsy Bitsy Singapore (Ch U) to be of notable quality.
The Committee also applauded Channel NewsAsia (CNA) for consistently producing good and engaging local documentaries from an Asian perspective. They commended CNA for widening the potential reach of non-English arts and cultural programmes by providing English subtitles. CNA had adapted quality Indian and Malay cultural programmes such as Vannangal (Palette) and Semarak Budaya (Culture Alive!) for viewers who do not comprehend the languages. This helped to promote inter-cultural understanding and also enriched the viewing experiences of Singaporeans.
On programming for children and youths, the PAC noted that the info-educational programmes such as Pet Ventures (Kids Central) and Green Crusade (Kids Central), were excellent in conveying messages in a fun and interesting way. Local children's drama, like Kids United Series 2 &3 (Kids Central) and Who is No. 1 (Ch 8) also conveyed moral values to children besides exploring the pressing issues faced by them, such as passing school exams and having good relationships with family and friends.
However, the Committee felt that local broadcasters still lacked expertise in the production of programmes for pre-schoolers. They noticed that the few which were aired lacked visual appeal. The terms and concepts used were beyond what the pre-schoolers could comprehend.
Both Ch 5 and Ch i were complimented for showing quality movies last year and for sourcing good and award-winning dramas and sitcoms, such as CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) (Ch 5) and Titus (Ch i).
The PAC noted that more local versions of popular formatted game shows were introduced last year. The content of these programmes was generally engaging and entertaining. Broadcasters were commended for their creative efforts to give the pre-formatted programmes like Wheel of Fortune (Ch 5) and The Weakest Link (Ch 5 and 8) a local flavour.
The Committee noticed that the broadcasters have also made notable efforts to include a multi-racial cast for local productions such as First Touch (Ch 5). The minority races featured were given key or supporting roles and they were not depicted in a stereotyped manner.
On the whole, the PAC felt that the range of entertainment programmes offered have not widened significantly. As highlighted in last year's Annual Report, it was also observed that quality programmes continued to be shown at late night, while programmes of lesser quality and value were shown during prime time.
The PAC applauded Arts Central for continuing to impress and provide a good line-up of programmes. The channel had selected and scheduled a variety of arts programmes satisfying the arts connoisseur as well as those who are less well versed.
For sports programmes, the Committee was pleased to see improvement in the quantity and quality of info-educational programmes with a sports theme, such as Home Teams (CNA). However, the Committee felt that there is still an insufficient number and range of sports programmes on the free-to-air channels. Broadcasters also did not make a conscious and concerted effort to promote sports programmes to the public.
There were few significant changes to the range and quality of radio programmes. The PAC lauded Passion 99.5FM for making improvements by adding a Mandarin programming belt which proved to be popular and helped filled the dearth in Chinese cultural music and programmes on radio. However, they felt that the local English entertainment stations targeted at youths should strive to improve their talk show standards.
Recommendations by the PAC
The following recommendations were made to the broadcasters:
Enhance Inter-Cultural Understanding among Different Races
The Committee felt that it is important for broadcasters to help build better understanding among the different racial and religious groups in Singapore. They recommended broadcasters to provide more programmes that examine and explain different cultural and religious beliefs/practices to enhance viewers' understanding and appreciation of other cultures and religions.
Make Quality Programmes Accessible to a Wider Audience from Different Language Backgrounds
It is recommended that broadcasters make quality programmes accessible to the widest audiences possible. For quality programmes with limited viewership because of the language medium, broadcasters should consider dubbing or subtitling them into other languages so that more viewers are able to enjoy them.
Inject Creativity and Local Flavour into Formatted Game Shows
Broadcasters should continue to adapt international formatted game shows to suit local viewers, and avoid straight copies of the original. They could also introduce creative special editions to add value and variety to such programmes.
Improve Range of Sports Programmes on Free-to-air TV
It was observed that the existing coverage on sports programmes focused more on football and golf. The Committee suggested that broadcasters give coverage to other forms of sports in addition to the popular, mainstream ones. They should also emphasise more on local sports.
Devote a Dedicated Time Belt for Sports Programmes
The PAC noted that there is no dedicated time belt for sports fans on the free-to-air channels and urged broadcasters to allocate a dedicated time belt for sports programmes so that its fans can access them easily.
Produce more Programmes featuring Cross Cultural Influences on Art Forms
The Committee observed that arts and cultural programmes tend to focus on a particular ethnic group and in a particular language. To avoid compartmentalising these programmes, broadcasters should produce programmes on how various cultures influence art forms.
More Research for Programmes Targeted at Pre-schoolers
The broadcasters were urged to acquire greater knowledge about the cognitive development and psychology of pre-schoolers so that appropriate programmes could be produced for that age group.
Adopt Consistent Quality Programming and Scheduling Strategies
Noting viewers' complaints to frequent and last minute programme changes, the Committee felt that the broadcasters should refrain from such practices. They advised them to adopt clear and consistent programming and scheduling strategies to meet the needs of their target audience. This approach would help them build strong viewership support and loyalty over time.
Schedule Quality Dramas in More Accessible Timeslots
The recommendation was made last year. The PAC reiterated and hoped broadcasters could consider scheduling quality productions at times which are more accessible to viewers, instead of airing them in late night timeslots.
Radio presenters to be sensitive when handling callers with problems
Radio stations with phone-in segments for callers to share their problems must be sensitive to their callers and should avoid brushing off or trivialising the callers' problems. They should refer these callers to qualified counsellors, or whenever possible, the station could invite a counsellor as studio guest during such programmes.
In its conclusion, the PAC felt that the broadcast media has an important role to play in educating and uniting the nation, especially in our multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society. The broadcasters should take on the responsibility of enhancing and promoting inter-cultural understanding through the programmes they telecast. They should also strive to compete on quality rather than quantity. By producing quality programmes, they will whet the audience's appetite for more programmes of a higher standard. This would help raise the standard of programming in Singapore and enable local broadcasters to compete on the global stage.
The Committee recognised the presence of quality programmes on TV and highlighted the titles they enjoyed and appreciated across the different genres. They hoped that broadcasters will air more of such programmes. The PAC's "choice" or programmes is attached in Annex A of the Annual Report.
PROGRAMMES ADVISORY COMMITTEE
(MARCH 2002 TO FEBRUARY 2003)
Prof Eddie Kuo
Dean, School of Communication &Information
Nanyang Technological University
Mr John Ang (Chairman, Children Programme Advisory Subcommittee)
Dept of Social Work &Psychology
National University of Singapore
Mrs Choo Cheh Hoon (Chairman, Entertainment Programme Advisory Subcommittee)
School of Film &Media Studies
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Mrs Maureen Goh (Chairman, Sports Programme Advisory Subcommittee)
Director, Group Communications
Singapore Sports Council
Prof Koh Tai Ann (Chairman, Info-Education Programme Advisory Subcommittee)
National Institute of Education
Mr Teo Han Wue (Chairman, Culture Programme Advisory Subcommittee)
Former Director (Special Projects)
National Arts Council
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (up to 2 January 2002)
Minister of State
Ministry of National Development
Mr Lam Peck Heng
Chairman, Pace Advertising Pte Ltd
Dr John Lim
Altron Education Group
Dr Mohd Maliki Osman
Dept of Social Work &Psychology
National University of Singapore
Mr Adrian Peh
Yeo-Leong &Peh LLC
Mr Bala Reddy
Senior State Counsel
Ms Yeoh Chee Yan
Ministry of Community Development and Sports
Mr Rama Meyyappan
Media Development Authority