Dated: 8 June 2009
Calls to diversify programme mix to engage diverse communities and age groups. The Indian Programme Advisory Committee (IPAC) welcomes the launch of Vasantham as a full, dedicated channel for the Indian community, saying that the new Vasantham has potential to become the choice channel for Indian viewers by leveraging its core strength of producing quality programmes with a local flavour.
This is one of the key observations by IPAC, which today releases its biennial report from May 2007 to April 2009.
Led by Ms Indranee Rajah, Director, Drew &Napier and Member of Parliament, Tanjong Pagar GRC, the 17-member IPAC evaluates and makes recommendations on the quality, content and range of Indian Television and Radio programmes to ensure that they reflect social values and aspirations of the Indian community in Singapore. This is the 7th IPAC convened under the auspices of the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA).
Commenting on IPAC's report, Dr Christopher Chia, MDA’s Chief Executive Officer, said, "Vasantham’s launch as a full channel is reflective of MDA’s close and continued partnership with MediaCorp. This is part of MDA’s efforts to create quality Singapore content to give viewers more choices. As a channel supported under MDA’s Public Service Broadcast scheme, Vasantham's programmes reflect our heritage, customs, family values and lifestyles that audiences can identify with."
Elaborating on IPAC’s recommendations, Ms Rajah said, “Vasantham and Oli have done a great job to date in producing innovative and quality local programmes to engage audiences. However, with increasing competition from new media and subscription TV services, broadcasters should differentiate themselves from competing media to anchor and retain existing audiences and gain new ones. They can do this by focusing on high quality local programmes such as children’s shows and info-educational programmes, which Indian cable channels currently lack. A good example is the educational children’s programme “Vasantham Challenge”, a quiz show on science, arts and general knowledge. Quality local dramas should also be encouraged.”
Creating a diverse programme mix that caters to all communities and age groups
In addition, broadcasters should produce more programmes that cater to different age groups and diverse Indian communities such as locals, foreign workers and expatriates.
Vasantham’s drama series “Dreams”, “Samaithal Mattum Pothuma” featuring expatriate couples’ gastronomic preferences, and “Vidiya Vidiya Deepavali” (the 2008 Deepavali Countdown Show) were lauded for containing segments of interest to Indian foreign workers, expatriates and local Indian community.
IPAC also suggests that Vasantham include more programmes that appeal to senior citizens and adolescents aged between 9 and 14;and welcomes Vasantham’s initiative to bring back veteran artistes with whom the channel can interest the older generation of viewers with.
Increasing audience interactivity for info-educational and current affairs programmes
IPAC applauds Vasantham for continuing its legacy of producing relevant and current info-educational programmes. In particular, the Committee commends “Ethiroli” and “Naam”, for its well-researched round up of major events that happened during the week;as well as “Arangathil Indru”, “Udallum Ullamum, which are “live” programmes incorporating “call-in” segments. IPAC believes that “live” programmes with elements of interactivity is the right step forward in drawing and retaining viewership, and suggests Vasantham consider allowing viewers to pose questions using other means such as SMSes and e-mails, rather than limiting it to phone calls.
As for info-educational and current affairs programmes on Oli, IPAC commends “Pesalam Vanga” and “Velicham” for being informative and for engaging the local Indian community in discussion on relevant and timely issues. If resources permit, IPAC recommends that such programmes be aired on a daily basis.
Encouraging more collaborations with foreign companies for dramas
IPAC encourages more joint collaborations with foreign companies and talents to improve the quality and variety of programmes produced. IPAC is in favour of Vasantham’s move to produce long form dramas such as “Dreams” and “Bayam” as this allows the channel to boost regular viewership of drama programmes, which the channel did not enjoy previously due to limited transmission hours.
The locally produced drama series “Manam 2”, which featured people living with mental illnesses, is illustrative of a successful collaboration between artistes from India and Singapore.
Ensuring proper usage of the Tamil Language
IPAC stresses the importance of ensuring proper usage of the Tamil language as children and youth tend to consider the language used by Vasantham and Oli as the benchmark for the proper use of Tamil. As an Indian channel, usage of English words in Vasantham’s programmes should also be kept to a minimum. Overall, IPAC comments that broadcasters should refrain from using colloquial words with negative connotations and minimise the use of English while continuously taking steps to improve their language standards.
Calls for a wider range of radio programmes for children, youth and elderly
On radio programmes, IPAC lauded Oli on its refreshing morning programme belt, as well as its support for various cultural and social initiatives such as the Tamil Language Festival.
On areas for improvement, IPAC feels that more can be done to diversify the range of programmes available to listeners. For instance, Oli could consider producing short magazine style programmes for different community segments, such as women, youth, children and elderly. For young working adults, there could be programmes on job opportunities, higher learning, marital issues, relationships and other pertinent topics.
In addition, Oli could include more information capsules on social issues that benefit the lower income groups. In this manner, the media can play its part in simplifying and conveying complex concepts in a clear and straightforward manner that is easily understood by listeners.
The full details of the IPAC report 2007/2009 can be found on (www.mda.gov.sg/ipac).
Indian Programmes Advisory Committee (IPAC)
The Indian Programme Advisory Committee (IPAC) was set up in November 1994 to evaluate the quality, content and range of Indian Television and Radio programmes and their impact on the Indian community in Singapore. The Committee also makes recommendations to enhance the broadcasters’ role to entertain, inform and educate the public.
Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA)
Formed in 2003, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) plays a vital role in transforming Singapore into a Trusted Global Capital for New Asia Media. MDA spearheads initiatives that promote industry growth in film, television, radio, publishing, music, games, animation and Interactive Digital Media. At the same time, in ensuring clear and consistent regulatory policies and guidelines, MDA helps to foster a pro-business environment for industry players and increase media choices for consumers. For more information, visit www.mda.gov.sg and www.smf.sg.