Dated: 17 April 2003
The Advisory Committee on Chinese Programmes (ACCESS) released its annual report for the period April 2002 to March 2003. The role of the Committee is to recommend to the Media Development Authority improvements to the range and quality of Chinese programmes on free-to-air television, and to give feedback and advice on programme standards.
In the report, the Committee observed that with competition, there has been a general improvement in the selection of Chinese programmes. Viewers also have more choices of local and acquired Chinese programmes on the free-to-air TV channels.
While choices have increased, the ACCESS felt that there is still room for improvement in the quality and range of Chinese programmes. This includes encouraging Chinese channels to be more conscious of Singapore's multi-cultural and multi-racial background when producing programmes.
On programming standards, the Committee noted that broadcasters have generally complied with programme standards and there were no major censorship concerns.
Members observed an improvement in the quality of Chinese programmes. They commended broadcasters for their efforts in producing programmes that inform and entertain, such as Itsy BitsySingapore and The Mission. The Committee observed that there was a trend to produce re-enacted dramas based on true-life stories, adding realism and providing precautionary message to viewers. Examples include Crunch Time and Tonight I Will Tell. The Committee also noted two of Ch U's programmes Youth Express and You're Okay, I'm Okay were awarded the "Best Youth Programme" and "Best Talk Show" at the Asian Television Award 2002.
RECOMMENDATIONS BY ACCESS
The following recommendations were made by the Committee with regard to Chinese programmes on Channels 8 and U:
More Programmes that Promote Multi-Racial Themes
Broadcasters were encouraged to be conscious of Singapore's multi-racial and multi-cultural background when producing programmes.
From a social point of view, the Committee felt that the broadcasters have a responsibility to help build inter-racial understanding and cohesion among Singaporeans, especially in the light of the present social and political climate. From a commercial viewpoint, the local multi-cultural environment would provide the Chinese channels with a competitive edge to differentiate their services from the other Chinese channels such as Phoenix and Power TV. Instead of competing with these channels by producing similar programmes, the ACCESS recommended local broadcasters to take advantage of our multi-cultural context to produce programmes that reflect the Singapore and Southeast Asia environment that are of value to both local and overseas Mandarin speaking audiences.
Scheduling of Current Affairs programmes
It was felt that the scheduling of current affairs programmes was too late, making it less accessible to viewers. There is a common belief that current affairs and informational programmes could only appeal to niche audiences. The Committee felt otherwise, and argued that these programmes could also be made interesting and scheduled at core primetime.
In-depth Information and Documentary Programmes
The ACCESS encouraged broadcasters to produce more in-depth current affairs and documentary programmes. While current series such as Focus have done well in covering and providing timely analyses on socio-political events, the Committee felt that broadcasters could also learn from foreign broadcasters like Phoenix TV which produced quality current affairs programmes. Our local production industry should also take advantage of Singapore's competitive edge in knowledge, production expertise and proximity to the Asian continent to produce documentaries that look beyond Singapore.
More Programmes that Promote Arts and Culture
With the opening of the Esplanade, broadcasters were encouraged to feature more programmes on local and international arts performances. Another suggestion was to work with our local playwrights and performing arts groups to adapt from local plays. For example, plays by the late Mr Kuo Pao Kun could be adapted into TV programmes as many of Kuo's works are multi-racial in theme and can be shown on different channels.
The ACCESS noticed that competition between Ch 8 and U has intensified. It advised broadcasters to embrace competition in a positive light and strive to compete on quality, and not veer towards sensationalistic treatments or oversimplification of subjects, to draw in mass viewership. The Committee highlighted that competition is not only between the two local broadcasters but from foreign Chinese channels as well. As such, local broadcasters should focus on improving their programmes so as to compete effectively with the foreign Chinese channels. Only then can the industry progress and viewers benefited from healthy competition.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CHINESE PROGRAMMES
(1 APRIL 2002 TO 31 MARCH 2003)
Professor Wang Gungwu
Director, East Asian Institute
Mdm Claire Chiang
Executive Director, Banyan Tree Gallery
Dr Chou Mei Ling
Deputy CEO, Care Corner Counselling Centre
Mr Chua Thian Poh
Chairman, Ho Bee Holdings Pte Ltd
Mrs Ho Woon Ho
Principal, Nanyang Junior College
Associate Professor Hao Xiaoming
Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University
Dr Kwok Kian Woon
Sociologist and Managing Director, Cruxible Pte Ltd
Mr Lau Ping Sum
Executive Director, PAP Community Foundation
Dr Quah Sy Ren
Assistant Professor, National Institute of Education
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang
Director, National Trade Union Congress