Singapore's media sector gets boost amid Covid-19, including $8 million fund to protect jobs

The new fund is part of a series of IMDA initiatives to help Singapore's media sector through the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTOS: SCREENGRABS FROM YOUTUBE, VIMEO

SINGAPORE - An $8 million fund launched by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will create more production opportunities in the coming months and, in turn, protect the jobs of media professionals.

The Public Service Content Fund is part of a series of initiatives introduced by the authority to help Singapore's media sector tide over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Media firms can benefit from reduced operating costs and more project opportunities while practitioners, including freelancers, can tap on subsidised training fees to sharpen their craft during the downtime, said IMDA on Tuesday (April 14).

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said these initiatives are part of the larger national effort to protect jobs and livelihoods.

"The Government will continue to support our media companies and professionals as they weather this trying period, so that they can continue to create content that inspires, uplifts and binds us as one united people," he added.

"In the longer term, the Government will continue to build capabilities to better prepare our workers, businesses and people to seize opportunities. Working together, we will overcome this period of uncertainty and emerge stronger as one."

Under the new fund, media firms Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Mediacorp and Viddsee will commission short-form content for their digital platforms through a call for proposals. Media firms and talent can take advantage of this circuit breaker period to put together their proposals and start production work when restrictions are lifted.

SPH deputy chief executive Anthony Tan said this initiative will go towards encouraging the local content production community during these trying times.

"We look forward to commissioning engaging and informative productions, and to be able to share these fresh and exciting local content with our audience across our network's different platforms," he added.

IMDA will extend its support for ground-up initiatives by media associations by contributing to a Covid-19 relief fund introduced by the Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals to support those affected by the cancellation and postponement of projects.

Half of the $40,000 fund will be contributed by IMDA, and the rest by the association. Practitioners affected by the cancellation and postponement of projects as a result of the pandemic can apply for grants of between $300 and $500. This is only for eligible new and existing members, according to the association's website.

In addition, the authority is encouraging professionals to deepen their craft during this downtime.

It will support the upskilling of self-employed professionals by providing a grant of up to 90 per cent of course fees, capped at $3,000 per course under the Talent-Assistance scheme. These practitioners, including freelancers, can also benefit from training allowance for eligible courses.

Media companies will also receive a waiver of the film exhibition and distribution licence fees from this Friday (April 17) for both new licence applications and renewals of existing licences. Classification fees for films (public exhibition and video distribution), video games and label fees will also be waived until further notice.

IMDA will also help local media firms to boost their capabilities and competitiveness by tapping the expertise of its international content partners.

It has worked with partners such as WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks Apac and ViacomCBS Networks Asia to bring forward the implementation of the capabilities partnership programme, which pairs global media giants with local media firms to develop "Made in Singapore" content.

The programme is expected to benefit 80 to 100 local media companies over the next 12 months.

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