The Advisory Committee on Chinese Programmes (ACCESS) released its annual report for the period April 2003 to March 2004 today.
In its report, the Committee commended the broadcasters for experimenting with new and appealing programming ideas and formats. Programmes such as Channel U's "What Say You" and Channel 8's 6.30pm News provide platforms for viewers to voice their views and give direct feedback to the broadcasters.
While consumers here have definitely gained from more choice in television programmes, the Committee acknowledged that the competitive environment had an impact on the two players, especially with the soft local advertising market last year. With the expected economic recovery, the committee encouraged broadcasters to explore new strategies and opportunities to grow their businesses and to further exercise creativity to transform their media products.
The Committee further highlighted the dangers of being overly engrossed in competition within the local market. With limited growth potential in our small local advertising market, it felt that broadcasters would not benefit by focusing merely on competition within Singapore. Thus it urged broadcasters to look beyond Singapore and invest in the international market.
While the Committee noted that broadcasters had generally observed programming standards and there were no major censorship concerns, it noted that there appeared to be more product placements and sponsorship in programmes. It advised broadcasters to maintain editorial control over programmes and ensure that product placements and sponsorship do not affect the quality of programmes. There should be a clear line of distinction between advertising and normal programming. In particular, product endorsements in programmes should be discouraged as this would constitute advertising and would influence viewers' judgement of the product.
RECOMMENDATIONS BY ACCESS
The Committee made several recommendations on a wide range of issues.
(a) Forum Programmes Broadcasters could make use of forum programmes to address more insightful themes. Such discussion programmes could be held right after a drama series to have more impact. To make it more appealing, the same artistes featured in the drama could appear in these discussion programmes and share their views on the subject matter.
(b) Creative Programming Format Broadcasters have the tendency to lower the standards of TV programmes to appeal to mass viewers. In the long run, this mindset might hinder the production of more quality programmes. Broadcasters were thus encouraged to engage viewers through interesting programming formats and to subtly bring in issues for discussion. The challenge was to come up with creative ideas that would appeal to the masses but not compromise on the quality of the programme.
(c) Make quality local Chinese Programmes packing international appeal Channels 8 and U should be encouraged to produce Chinese programmes not only for our local Chinese community but for a wider audience beyond Singapore.
As our local programmes might not necessarily appeal to the international audience because of their strong local flavour, broadcasters might need to adopt different strategies for the local and overseas markets, and to come up with universal themes and production quality that appeal to a wider audience.
At the same time, producing programmes with universal appeal alone is not enough as broadcasters face tough competition from other international producers who could produce higher quality programmes with a higher budget. Broadcasters need to differentiate themselves from other competitors by offering unique content. Being in a multi-racial society, local producers could produce programmes with Pan-Asian themes and perspectives. Documentaries are one possible genre that broadcasters could explore as local producers are generally strong in factual research. Co-production is another way to gain access to international markets.
Members also noted that our local Chinese programmes cater mainly to the Chinese community. This makes it difficult for these programmes to travel as they have to compete intensely with similar content from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Our Chinese channels should consider developing cosmopolitan content that lends an added dimension to an otherwise mono-ethnic perspective to local Chinese programming. This may appeal to non-Chinese viewers and hence attract a wider audience.
(d) Explore talent exchange with foreign broadcasters Talent is essential for the industry to develop and grow. However, members observed a dwindling pool of talent in the local Chinese community especially since the younger generation's interest and knowledge of the Chinese language has diminished. Developing local talents is a long term process and requires a concerted effort from both the broadcasters and the government to spur talents in the local broadcasting industry. For example, exchange programmes would help to encourage transfer of skills and expertise between local and foreign producers.
(e) Help promote inter-racial understanding through documentaries Broadcasters could consider showing documentaries on the different races and schedule these programmes to coincide with the various festivals such as Hari Raya or Thaipusam. Such programmes allow our viewers to gain a better understanding of the various communities, which is especially important in Singapore's multi-racial society. The channels could consider producing or acquiring these documentaries.
(f) Consider programmes that appeal to non-Chinese viewers Broadcasters could consider collating ratings statistics for both Chinese and non-Chinese viewers to ascertain the potential of these untapped markets. Broadcasters could also consider using subtitles for their programmes for non-Chinese viewers.
For more information, please contact:
Ms Wang Chee Yann
Senior Manager, Corporate &Marketing
Website : http://www.mda.gov.sg