Report card for local media content

Online series Bridget's Adventures by SPH. PAC said the company shows good potential as a partner for public service broadcast content.
Online series Bridget's Adventures by SPH. PAC said the company shows good potential as a partner for public service broadcast content.PHOTO: ST DIGITAL

The range and quality of local media content last year were generally good, say the Programme Advisory Committees (PAC), which have issued their third annual report to the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

But the four committees - one for each of the official languages - also called for improvements in scripting and technical standards in Mediacorp Channel 5 and Suria dramas.

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) was said to show "good potential" as a partner for public service broadcast content, but it added that production quality needed to be more consistent.

Online series from SPH were launched in November last year and are hosted on platforms such as ST.com and RazorTV.

They include adventure sports info-ed show Bridget's Adventures and interview series The Newsmaker.

On the plus side, the PAC - which comprise members of the public across ages, ethnicities and occupations - enjoyed the "diverse, bolder topics and fresh presentation formats across dramas and information programmes".

Well-made programmes singled out for mention include Channel 5 game show Don't Forget To Remember, Channel U child labour documentary Lost Innocence, Suria drama Aduh... Bibikku! (Oh... My Maid!) and Vasantham current affairs series Ethiroli (Echo).

However, Channel 5 psychiatric drama Left Behind needed "realism in scripting" and Suria melodramas such as Kemelut (Crisis) featured "comparatively basic visual presentation styles, editing and camera work".

The report also called for more arts content in Vasantham's info- education offerings, such as a dedicated series on classical Indian arts.

The PAC also paid attention to local broadcaster Mediacorp's online content platform Toggle.

While there have been "vast improvements" made to the Toggle platform, including push notifications for episode updates, more needed to be done, including better streaming quality.

The report also took note of content breaches during the year in review, including fines for SPH Radio and Mediacorp for racially insensitive content.

On Kiss 92's morning show, the deejays made remarks which "reinforced certain racial stereotypes" while discussing the results of a sleep study; and Mediacorp's Toggle received flak when an episode of the Web drama I Want To Be A Star featured actor Shane Pow in "blackface".

It said that "it is crucial for broadcasters to consistently exercise sensitivity with regard to content that touch on racial and religious issues, as these can be potentially divisive".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'Report card for local media content'. Print Edition | Subscribe