Dated: 30 July 2007
The Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) today released its report for the period 1 August 2005 to 31 July 2007.
In its report, the Committee was pleased to observe that there was increased public feedback on programme content standards. Chairman of PACE, Prof Leo Tan commented: “It is heartening to note the increase in public involvement as Singaporeans are becoming more proactive in evaluating broadcast programmes and having a voice in content standards. Broadcasters will need to stay closely in tune with public needs when planning their programming line-up.”
On the range and standards of TV programmes provided, the Committee was generally satisfied that the broadcasters have heeded the call for more innovative and quality programmes – both local as well as acquired ones. In recommending the areas for further improvement, PACE noted that vacant timeslots left when a programme series ends are still repeatedly filled with the same type of slapstick programming like Mr Bean and Just for Laughs.
The Committee found the quality of local children’s programmes such as Bring Your Toothbrush and Groom My Room Too to be both entertaining and educational. To promote an interest in Current Affairs amongst children, the Committee recommended that the range of Children’s programmes be widened to include content from this genre, such as specially tailored News and Current Affairs programmes as well as programmes that promote National Education.
The Committee applauded MediaCorp TV for working with schools to involve youths in the revamped debate programme The Arena. However, the Committee noted that there is still a lack of quality programmes that address the issues which youths face, and those that cater to children aged eight to 12 years old.
For Entertainment programmes, the Committee noted that broadcasters have generally refrained from the use of Singlish, following its advice to improve the standard of English in local sitcoms and dramas. The Committee further noted that there have been attempts to move away from the slapstick, mass entertainment sitcom format to local dramas such as Parental Guidance and After Hours. PACE also commended MediaCorp TV Channel 5’s efforts in calling for script submission from the public for Phua Chu Kang skits, thereby offering the public an opportunity to play an active role in contributing content. The Committee advised the broadcasters to exercise discretion in gag programmes such as Gotcha as well as caution when trailing programmes with horror or mature themes which could be disturbing for children.
The Committee continued to urge Arts Central not to lose sight of its focus as an Arts-dedicated channel and advised that alternative niche programmes should not be offered at the expense of Arts and Cultural content. The Committee also recommended that Arts programmes on Arts Central be accessible in the early evening and cross-promoted on other channels and mediums to generate greater awareness. It also urged Arts Central to widen its programme range to include more documentaries with arts as a theme.
During the year in review, the Committee was pleased to see marked improvement in Channel NewsAsia’s timeliness in reporting breaking news, ahead of other news channels like CNN and BBC. In addition, its efforts to bring in quality documentaries through its “Documentary of the Week” specials were commended for adding to the programming variety on the channel while retaining its branding of a news and information channel. The Committee recommended incorporating quality acquired news documentaries such as 60 Minutes and Panorama, as well as local Current Affairs programmes that discuss hot topics in-depth such as global warming, and documentaries on Singapore’s history and heritage.
For Sports programmes, the Committee noticed that MediaCorp has made notable efforts to provide live coverage of local athletes in action during the coverage of Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. However, members observed that there continues to be little media coverage on disability sports. With a strong likelihood of first medal hopes for Singapore’s participation at the Paralympics Games in Beijing 2008, the Committee urged the free-to-air channels to provide coverage of the event.
To raise awareness and viewership for local sports events as well as those at school level, the Committee continued to urge broadcasters to provide regular sports programmes. Noting the high viewing interest in international sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and the English Premiere League (EPL) which Starhub has exclusive telecast rights to, the Committee urged the broadcasters to work together to provide public access to as much coverage of these events as possible on free-to-air channels.
The Committee continued to note that the range of English programmes catering to the elderly is lacking and there does not seem to be any channel which has made specific attempts to tailor its programming to cater to the needs of this age group. The Committee urged the broadcasters to be mindful of an increasingly sophisticated elderly population in Singapore and to provide quality programmes that will meet the viewing interests of this audience segment, such as programmes which address issues faced by the elderly.
In general, the Committee was satisfied with the range and quality of Radio programmes to cater to the diverse interests of listeners. It applauded MediaCorp Radio for its efforts to promote sports on air in the form of the sports programme, Sports Zone and Sports Wrap (sports updates), both of which are carried on 938LIVE and hoped that TV would do the same in promoting sports. The Committee noted that Lush 99.5’s programming has improved with the station’s offering of a wider variety of music as well as more features on the local arts scene.
The Committee urged all radio broadcasters to continue to abide by the Radio Programme Code on the treatment of sensitive and sex-related topics. Recommendations from the Committee included a clear distinction between ‘live talk” on air and advertisements, as well as longer stretches of music play with interruptions only for informative commentaries.
Moving forward, PACE continued to encourage broadcasters on traditional platforms like TV and radio to air unique and quality programmes, and also consider leveraging new media by offering local content that resonates well with the public on alternative platforms like podcasts or broadband TV (e.g. MOBTV). In addition, the Committee hoped to see the availability of more quality programmes for the two demographic groups - the youths and elderly.
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About the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA)
The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) was formed on 1 January 2003 to champion Media 21, a blueprint to transform Singapore into a global media city. Media 21 seeks to create a vibrant media environment by establishing Singapore as a media exchange, exporting Made-by-Singapore content, internationalising local media companies, nurturing local media talent and developing digital media. MDA also performs a regulatory function in managing content to protect core values and safeguard consumer interest. More information on MDA can be found on www.mda.gov.sg.
The PACE is a 33-member committee which advises the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) on the range and quality of English TV and Radio programmes and gives suggestions for their improvement. Chaired by Prof Leo Tan, Professor, Natural Sciences &Science Education of National Institute of Education, the Committee also provides feedback on the Code of Practice which broadcasters observe.