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$20 million to boost media sector productivity growth

26 June 2012 - The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) aims to raise the Value Added per worker from the current $98,500 to $119,700 by end 2013... Read more

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) aims to raise the Value Added per worker from the current $98,500 to $119,700 by end 2013 through a $20 million funding boost into the industry.

Over the next five years, the $20 million will be administered under the existing MDA Grant Schemes 1, with $15 million going into one of its five schemes, ‘Talent Assistance’ to upgrade skills; and $5 million going into another scheme, ‘Enterprise Assistance’ for process improvements. Intellectual property creation, skills upgrading and process improvements are key drivers of productivity growth for the media sector.

​Said Mr Aubeck Kam, Chief Executive Officer of MDA, “In the media sector, the way to productivity is through ideas. We have to keep developing better ideas because better ideas mean more audiences and more value derived from the same unit of work. We need to help companies, enterprises and individuals grow competitively in the long term by proceeding on this front. ”

Three New Productivity Measures

The $20 million funding will go into three new productivity measures, effective 1 July 2012, as follows (www.mda.go​​​​):

1.Training Allowance: Generally, freelancers are not affiliated to any company and as such, are unable to benefit from absentee payroll. The new Training Allowance addresses this gap and encourages freelancers to upgrade and upskill without having to worry about the potential loss of income forgone when attending courses to improve themselves.

This new Training Allowance is administered under MDA’s existing ‘Talent Assistance’ Grant Scheme. With effect from 1 July 2012, freelancers who attend Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) and non-WSQ courses can now claim up to $1,800 per month of training allowance, at a rate of $7.50 per hour, capped at a maximum of $9,000 over five years. This is in addition to the existing Talent Assistance scheme where freelancers can already claim up to 90% of their course fees, capped at $15,000 per freelancer per year.

Example :
If a freelance script writer is interested in a WSQ course, “Writing for film & TV: Writing from a Producer’s Brief” which costs $838 for three days, he/she will now be able to claim $180 in Training Allowance ($7.50 per hour X 8 hours X 3 days) on top of the 90% course fees support under the current Talent Assistance. Previously, he/she would not have been entitled to any absentee payroll.

2. Enhanced Apprenticeship: Enhanced Apprenticeship aims to upskill experienced media practitioners by equipping them with higher skills through work attachments. Currently, for employees, the opportunity cost of being away from key jobs can be high. Finding the right apprenticeship opportunities in suitable host organizations with willing and able mentors may also be beyond the reach of most of them. For employers, the financial burden of sending an employee for upskilling overseas can be high, not to mention the impact on staffing and resources.

In light of the above, from 1 July 2012, enhanced apprenticeship opportunities will be available for those who go for attachments to attain higher skills learning and work experience in key creditable roles -- such as executive producer, cinematographer, scriptwriter, copy editor, animation artist, gaffer and set director. The enhanced apprenticeship opportunities are administered under MDA’s existing Talent Assistance Grant Scheme. Both media employees and freelancers can receive up to $3,200 per month for local attachments. For overseas attachments, the grant is up to $3,800 per month, with a one-off sum of $3,000 for airfare and insurance. The grants are capped at a maximum of $9,000 to be given out over five years.

Employers also benefit from this new Enhanced Apprenticeship. Said Mr David Kwok, Chief Executive Officer of Tiny Island Productions Pte Ltd, “I am excited and thrilled that MDA has such a scheme to help small companies like ours send deserving and capable talent overseas for training. To grow to the next level, the animation industry needs to groom capable leaders, and MDA’s Enhanced Apprenticeship scheme certainly helps to build the next level of leaders, who can steer my company and the industry forward.”

Example :
a.Josh Yong is a 29 year-old freelance video-editor. He has been selected to work in the London Olympics as a video editor. The work attachment in the Olympic Broadcasting Service will see Josh learning new and specialized skills as he will be editing live coverage for a worldwide audience. The learning value is immense at such a large-scale and international event.

b.James Phang is a 34 year-old line producer with Tiny Island Productions Pte Ltd. He will be receiving apprenticeship from an attachment to FremantleMedia Enterprise in Los Angeles, a leading media company. As part of the 6-month overseas attachment, he will receive hands-on immersion and learning in best-of-breed story and concept development, mentored by experienced Hollywood development specialists.

3. Process Improvements: Administered under the existing Enterprise Assistance Grant Scheme, this new productivity grant will help media companies raise efficiency through process improvements, particularly in areas such as content creation, content asset workflow management and automation.
Successful applicants can receive a grant of up to $150,000 per company to improve efficiency subject to a cap of 30 percent of the total qualifying cost of the project. Examples of qualifying cost include hiring consultants to advise on ways to enhance efficiency, adopting the latest technological solutions to improve workflow, training inhouse personnel to operate time-saving equipment and other forms of process improvements.

Example :
A VFX company which is interested to build automation tools to manage digital assets to enable accurate estimates of production hours, better informed business decision and improved turnaround time will require an estimated $550,000 to do so. Under Enterprise Assistance (Productivity), MDA will fund 30% of the qualifying cost or $150,000. Besides this, the company is also eligible for ​​ 2​PIC tax deductions which amount to $272,000. As such, the company enjoys a savings of $422,000 in total, approximately 70% of the total cost of the project.

The $20 million productivity boost for the media sector is provided with the support of the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council (NPCEC). The NPCEC is a tripartite council comprising members from the unions, private and public sectors, set up in April 2010, to galvanise the nation to achieve national productivity growth over the next ten years.

Singapore’s media sector

The media industry comprises seven sub-sectors, employing a total workforce of 69,400 workers. The sub-sectors are broadcasting, publishing, printing, games & software, online media, film & video and music.
There are at least 29,000 freelancers in the media sector. The media sector comprises mainly startups, where over 95% of the total establishments have revenue of less than $10 million 3.
In 2010, the Value Added (VA) of the media sector was $6.68 billion 4, or 2.2% of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product ($310 billion).
A vibrant and dynamic media sector contributes to Singapore’s attractiveness as a global business hub; while offering career paths that fulfil the creative aspirations of Singapore.


​​ About Media Development Authority (MDA)
The Media Development Authority of Singapore ( promotes the growth of globally competitive Animation, Broadcast, Film, Games, Interactive Media, Music and Publishing industries. It also regulates the media sector to safeguard the interest of consumers and promotes a connected society. MDA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (www.mci.go​

1M​​DA simpl​​ified its funding schemes from 46 to five in September 2011. The five Grant Schemes include ‘Development Assistance’ which helps companies and individuals develop their ideas into media content; ‘Production Assistance’ which supports the production of a diverse range of Singapore-made media content, applications and services; ‘Marketing Assistance’ which helps companies and individuals market their content to audiences; ‘Talent Assistance’ which helps media professionals to upgrade, upskill and secure work attachments; and ‘Enterprise Assistance’ which aims to build sustainable business growth for high-potential local media enterprises. A total of $88 million has been set aside for the five schemes till 2013. More information can be found at www.mda.go​​.

2The Productivity and Innovation Credit (“PIC”) was introduced in the Singapore Budget 2010 to provide tax benefits for investments by businesses in a broad range of activities along the innovation value chain. These activities include acquisition of Intellectual Property Rights, acquisition or leasing of equipment and training of employees. For more information, please refer to

3Source: 2009 statistics from Department of Statis​tics (DOS) and Economic Development Board (EDB), October 2011

a) 2004-2009 statistics from DOS & EDB, Oct 2011 
b) 2010 statistics from Media Sizing Study 2010 commissioned by MDA and conducted by the Asia Competitiveness Institute, LKYSPP-NUS, Apr 2012​​