Dated: 7 September 2011
The Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) released its 13th report today on the range and quality of English broadcast content in Singapore for the period 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2011. In its report, PACE commended broadcasters for having done well in providing viewers with extensive “live” coverage of key international sporting events, such as the 1st Youth Olympic Games (YOG), the Commonwealth Games and the Formula 1 SingTel Grand Prix. PACE also commended MediaCorp for providing a good range of quality children’s programmes. Infoeducational shows such as Renovaid, were also given the thumbs-up for providing educational insights into the lives of the underprivileged, Chasing Sleep for health matters, and Lost Images for taking viewers down memory lane with never-seen-before footage of Singapore in the 1950s.
The Committee also reminded broadcasters of the need to protect young audiences from content that is unsuitable for them, through means such as improved scheduling, and providing adequate information on content concerns through classification ratings and content advisories. These would help parents make more informed media choices for their children.
Concurrently, PACE asked for more quality local content to be produced, particularly those that promote inter-generational bonding. Likewise, broadcasters were encouraged to inject local elements into foreign content, such as through co-productions with overseas Page 2 of 8 production houses (e.g. A gURLs wURLd, which aired on okto in June 2011); and to consider adapting foreign productions into local formats so as to make the programmes more relevant to local audiences.
The 31-member Committee, chaired by Professor Leo Tan, is appointed by the Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts and drawn from a cross section of society, comprising different ages, fields of interests and expertise, including the arts, sports, academia, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. PACE provides feedback and recommendations on the range and quality of English TV and radio programmes. It also gives inputs to MDA on content standards and guidelines and suggests improvements to the regulatory framework.
Said Prof Leo Tan, “PACE is heartened to note how local broadcasters have made the effort to come up with more creative and engaging local programmes, and this has helped to distinguish them from foreign channels. This is evident even for the Pay TV operators, such as SingTel mioTV which produced its own local sports programmes. Notwithstanding this, the Committee would like to urge broadcasters to continue to explore new and innovative ways of reaching out to its audiences and offer a variety of content that can appeal to different demographics while still protecting the young.”
The key observations and recommendations of the PACE Report are summarised below.
A) Children, Sports, Arts and Cultural Affairs and Info-Educational Programmes get thumbs up
PACE appreciated the efforts that broadcasters have made to improve on the range and quality of children, sports, arts, cultural and info-educational programming.
Members commended okto for setting aside a dedicated time belt for preschool children (from 9am to 3pm on weekdays, and 7am to 9am on weekends) which has resulted in a considerable amount of educational programmes for the young. Other noteworthy examples of quality local productions for children include Club M.A.G.I.C, Witz! and Stranger Than You!. PACE also commended Pay TV operator StarHub Cable Vision (SCV) for its programmes targeted at children such as How It’s Made and Man-Made Marvels on Discovery Channel.
In its report, PACE expressed appreciation for the wide coverage given to key sporting events, and the strong emphasis on sports programmes on both Free-to-air TV and Pay TV in 2010. Notable offerings included MediaCorp’s coverage of the YOG, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games; as well as Channel 5’s Sports@SG, a one-stop guide to local sporting action and information. SingTel mioTV was also commended for producing good local sports programmes “Score” and “The Goal Mouth” which offered local expert opinions from football veterans Abbas Saad and R. Sasikumar. SCV was also credited for its offering of six dedicated channels that covered the YOG, 64 “live” FIFA World Cup matches across its various platforms, and a newly-launched Racquet Channel. However, members expressed concerns over the relatively higher subscription fee that viewers had to pay to watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, compared to the previous World Cup.
On Arts and Cultural programmes, PACE was pleased that MediaCorp had introduced a dedicated time belt, “a-ok” from April 2011, which is dedicated to arts, culture, and heritage programmes. PACE found this to be an improvement as members had expressed disappointment over the general line-up of arts and cultural programmes on TV in the previous PACE report.
MediaCorp’s efforts in featuring good info-educational programmes was also acknowledged, with programmes such as Channel 5’s RenovAid, featuring the homes of the less-privileged being given makeovers, Channel NewsAsia (CNA)’s Chasing Sleep and okto’s “Lost Images”, a documentary feature showcasing never-seen-before footage of old Singapore.
B) Protecting children from unsuitable content and providing clear consumer advisories
PACE strongly recommended that broadcasters take steps to protect young audiences from unsuitable material. This can be done through appropriate scheduling of such content on radio, with members calling on radio deejays to refrain from sexual banter on time slots where children could be listening in (such as during morning drive times). As for TV, members stressed the need for programmes to carry clear consumer advisories and classification ratings to enable parents to make informed choices on the type of content that is suitable for their children. The Committee cited the example of drama series such Page 4 of 8 as Grey’s Anatomy and The O.C. (Series 2) offered on Pay TV channels which explored mature themes but did not carry any classification rating or consumer advisories.
In line with the Censorship Review Committee’s (CRC) emphasis on the importance of equipping parents to enable them to exercise control over their children’s media consumption, PACE was supportive of the recommendation for classification advisory logos to be displayed on the TV screen for a longer duration, especially after commercial breaks for both FTA and Pay TV programmes.
C) More quality local entertainment programmes to attract viewers
PACE suggested that broadcasters create more engaging local content to continue to attract and retain viewers. The Committee found it encouraging that MediaCorp has produced several talent search programmes and contests such as Singapore Idol, Live the Dream, Live ‘n’ Loaded and OMG to identify and showcase local talents. Local productions such as The Pupil and Fighting Spiders were cited as examples of quality local programmes which members found engaging, and that local channels should do more of.
On programmes for and featuring seniors, PACE commended MediaCorp Channel 5 for its local series Silver Lining, which explored intergenerational relationships, as well as issues and challenges faced by seniors today. Members encouraged broadcasters to continue producing programmes of such genres and themes, which would help families better understand their elderly parents and the challenges they face in their golden years. Members also urged broadcasters to produce more local programmes for the elderly, including talent contests and game shows which contain information on issues relevant to them, such as proper managing of finances during retirement and healthy living.
The Committee also encouraged broadcasters to inject local elements into foreign content through collaborations with foreign producers. In particular, PACE proposed that broadcasters produce more programmes for youths between 12 and 16 years old, such as those featuring local iconic personalities to inspire them and sharing life skills and social skills to prepare them for the future. For instance, the drama series, A gURLs wURLd, which is a joint production between Singapore and Australia about three teenage girls – a German, a Singaporean and a Australian – brought together by their common interest, was lauded.
D) Improving quality of News, and Current Affairs Programmes
In terms of breaking news coverage, and in particular, the 2011 General Elections which took place in May 2011, PACE pointed out that the substantial delay between announcements on other new media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter did not reflect well on CNA as a national news channel. Nonetheless, MediaCorp was complimented for its extensive coverage of this significant event and effort to provide balanced coverage and round-the-clock updates of the elections.
Whilst recognising that CNA targets Professionals, Managers, Executives and Businessmen (PMEB), members suggested that CNA produce more programmes on social issues faced by the community at large, and to be more mindful of societal concerns.
PACE also urged CNA to produce more youth-centric programmes, such as the wellregarded programme, I, Journalist, where students played reporters and presented campus news. To raise the level of interest in current affairs and to engage the youth, members suggested that CNA tackle more youth-oriented topics such as gang involvement and the use of social networking and its implications.
E) Advertising and Sponsorship
PACE expressed concerns that the excessive displays of sponsors’ logos during SingTel mioTV’s initial broadcast of the 2010/2011 Barclays Premier League on its “mio Stadium” channel had affected viewers’ viewing pleasure, and that the logos remained on the screen for periods that exceeded MDA’s guidelines. However, members were pleased that SingTel subsequently reduced the size of the displays as well as the duration of the logo appearances, making them less distracting to viewers.
Another area of continuing concern, which was first highlighted several reports ago, pertains to advertorial segments on radio, during which deejays or presenters talk openly about sponsored products and services. PACE again stressed that radio stations should clearly differentiate advertorials from regular radio programmes, so as not to mislead listeners. It also reminded radio presenters not to include personal views and endorsements when featuring sponsored products.
F) Radio stations urged to stay relevant and remain sensitive to audiences
PACE is heartened to note that on the whole, there has been an improvement in the range and variety of programmes and the standard of English in announcements and news reading. However, PACE also pointed out that broadcasters should be more mindful of the content (e.g. sexual references) that is broadcast during time slots where children are expected to be tuning in, particularly in the mornings. On a similar note, members felt that deejays should show more sensitivity and avoid humour at the expense of hurting or humiliating others, citing the incident on 98.7FM’s Shan & Rozz Show when one of the deejays disclosed specific details of a teacher, including her real name, and embarrassed her during the programme.
PACE also continued to express a desire for radio stations or time belts dedicated to children, so there can be an alternative channel for parents who drive their children to school in the mornings. Members also called for more extensive coverage of school sports events on radio.
G) PACE’s views on the Free-to-Air TV Programme and TV Advertising Codes
During its term, PACE was consulted for its views on the review of the TV Advertising Code and the Free-To-Air TV Programme Code. On the TV Advertising Code, PACE expressed concerns over TV advertisements on mobile phone downloads scheduled in time belts or programmes that primarily target children, such as on okto on weekends. PACE indicated that information on costs, terms and conditions for such services should be provided clearly and visibly, including the need to seek parental consent before subscription.
On the Free-to-Air TV Programme Code, PACE was supportive of MDA’s plans to harmonize the content standards for TV with that of films’, so that there could be greater consistency across platforms, making it less confusing for consumers.
H) PACE’s views on recommendations made by the Censorship Review Committee (CRC) 2009
PACE’s views were sought on some of the key content recommendations made by the CRC. One of the recommendations put forth by the CRC was to introduce a new “PG13” content rating to indicate content that is unsuitable for children younger than 13 years of Page 7 of 8 age and making this new rating available on FTA TV. PACE cautioned that the liberalization of content on FTA TV should be implemented carefully due to some areas of content concerns such as coarse language and sexual references.
PACE was generally supportive of the CRC’s recommendation that content rated “Restricted 21” (R21) should be allowed on Pay TV’s Video-on-Demand (VOD) platforms, provided that sufficient control mechanisms are in place to allow parents to effectively prevent access by children.
Appointment of new PACE Chairman
Mr Raymond Lye, Lawyer/Director, CitiLegal LLC, has been appointed by the Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts as the Chairman of PACE for a two-year term starting 1 August 2011. Mr Lye is a long-serving member of PACE and is also the Chairman of the Punggol East Citizens’ Consultative Committee and the School Advisory Committee of Meridian Primary School, as well as a member of the executive committee of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council. Mr Lye will be taking over from current Chairman Prof Leo Tan, who will be stepping down after six years at the helm.
The PACE report 2009/2011 can be found at
This news release is issued on behalf of The Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) by:
Ms Tan Lay Ping
Media Development Authority (MDA) of
Mobile: +65 9726 3122
Ms Gay Chwee Hwa
Assistant Director, Communications
Media Development Authority (MDA) of
Mobile: 9726 3165
Please also contact the above officers if you have any queries about the release.
About Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE)
The Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) was first set up in March 1995 with the aim of providing feedback on the range and quality of English TV and radio programmes, and make recommendations for improvement. The Committee is appointed by the Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) and is drawn from a cross section of society, comprising different ages, fields of interests and expertise, including the arts, sports, academia, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
About Media Development Authority (MDA)
The Media Development Authority of Singapore (www.mda.gov.sg) promotes the growth of globally competitive film, television, radio, publishing, music, games, animation and interactive digital media industries. It also regulates the media sector to safeguard the interests of consumers, and promotes a connected society.