Mediacorp told again to distinguish advertisements from programmes

Mediacorp Channels 5 and 8 have again been told by the authorities to clearly distinguish advertising content from their programmes.

In the Media Development Authority's (MDA) 2nd Broadcast Programme Advisory Committee Combined Report released on Monday (Sept 26), the committee had observed that the advertorial segments in some shows featured artists from the same dramas advocating the benefits of the sponsors' products.

The report listed Channel 5's Tanglin and Channel 8's 118 and Life - Fear Not as programmes with segments deemed as "advertorial in nature".

Moreover, these segments were inserted just before the programme's end credits and were filmed on the sets of the respective programmes.

Although the advisory committee had no issues with the use of the programme's artists and sets, it felt that the advertorial segments should be clearly distinguished from the rest of the programme.

This is not the first time that the local broadcaster has been advised to differentiate its programming from advertising.

Previously, the Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes had expressed concern over infomercials passed off as information programmes.

Its report released in 2009 had flagged the Channel 5 programme My Perfect Child for doing that - its sponsor's teaching method was promoted as factual when it was clearly advertorial in nature.

A Mediacorp spokesman said the company has addressed "the oversights with MDA and taken action to ensure that all our advertising is clearly presented as commercial content, distinct from programme content".

This year's report is the second combined annual report by the MDA's different Programme Advisory Committees in the four official languages - English, Chinese, Malay and Indian. Before last year, each committee presented its own findings separately.

The committees are in charge of assessing the range and quality of television programmes and radio broadcasts.

In total, there are about 80 members in the current committees. They come from different walks of life and contribute through various fields of interest and expertise including academia, media, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

It was not all brickbats in this year's MDA report. Mediacorp was also commended for its long-form series Tanglin and 118 for presenting relatable content to its audiences.

The daily drama Tanglin , which features a multiracial cast, was lauded for tackling cross-cultural issues and carrying the vital social values about inclusiveness and integration.

Heartland drama 118 was praised for its "down-to-earth depictions of social issues" and "celebration of the Singaporean identity".

The report pointed out that the span of long-form dramas had the potential to retain viewers and served as a good platform to discuss current issues in a light-hearted manner.

The second season of 118 will premiere in November.

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