$310m set aside annually for public service broadcasting in last 5 years

The Government has set aside about $310 million a year for public service broadcasting (PSB) programmes over the last five years.

This funding supports the provision of an average of 3,000 hours of television shows per year across Mediacorp's free-to-air channels in the four official languages, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran in a written parliamentary response yesterday.

"The funding also supports the development of capabilities and digital platforms to complement PSB programming," added Mr Iswaran.

PSB funding also supports Malay and Tamil radio stations Warna, Ria and Oli, dialect news broadcasts on Capital 958FM, and programming on Symphony 924FM and CNA 938FM, he added.

He was responding to Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC), who in his written parliamentary question asked about annual funding for Mediacorp in the last five years, the number of TV and radio programmes funded publicly in the same period, and whether funding was sufficient given the decreasing amount of advertising dollars Mediacorp can generate over the years.

In his reply, Mr Iswaran said the Government recognises that the media landscape and consumption habits are rapidly changing.

"The entry of many international content providers into the market has also intensified the competition for local viewers. These changes have brought about challenges for public service broadcasters around the world," he added.

"In the light of these trends, Mediacorp is taking steps to innovate and transform its business model and content offerings to better serve its audience," he said.

"The Government regularly reviews its funding for PSB programmes to ensure value for money and that Singaporeans continue to enjoy high-quality PSB programmes that meet the diverse needs of our communities."

According to the Infocomm Media Development Authority's website, PSB programmes serve "national and social interest objectives" that include promoting "positive social values", racial and religious harmony, and the Singapore identity, among other things.

Apart from free-to-air TV or radio, the Government has been working with Mediacorp to extend the reach of its PSB through on-demand services like Toggle. It has also engaged other partners, such as telco StarHub and media organisation Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Straits Times.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2020, with the headline $310m set aside annually for public service broadcasting in last 5 years. Subscribe