By Boon Chan
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.
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).
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.
Source: Straits Times
RBKD: In IMDA’s report released on Thursday (Aug 24), it said the PACs (Programme Advisory Committees) noted greater diversity in drama themes, with some featuring subject matters that were topical, educational and even taboo. For example, The Strength Within by Vasantham covered mental health issues – a topic rarely explored in Tamil dramas, IMDA said.
It also noted that previous concerns on the “over-reliance on dark themes” such as vengeance and revenge in Tamil storylines have been addressed “with an injection of greater thematic diversity”.
Peace and Prosperity (Channel 8) was also highlighted for its inclusion of multi-racial characters which “resulted in a more balanced portrayal of Singapore society”, IMDA said.
Greater diversity, better quality, improved programme formats and audience engagement among positives highlighted by the committees in latest report.
IMDA’s Programme Advisory Committees (PAC) have issued a report consolidating their observations and feedback on content standards and the quality of broadcast content in Singapore’s four official languages, particularly local Public Service Broadcast (PSB) productions. The committees comprise members of the public across various age groups, ethnicities, occupations, areas of interest and specialisation.
This report contains PAC observations for the period of August 2014 to March 2016.
Snapshot of Key Observations/ Feedback
1. Greater diversity and improvements in production quality in dramas, infotainment programmes
The PAC observed that there were improvements in storytelling standards, cinematography and editing techniques for the dramas produced during the period in review. In addition, the committees observed that there was a wider range of themes and genres in the dramas they reviewed, including themes such as active aging and, courtroom issues and genres such as psychological thrillers, which were not attempted as much previously. Long-form dramas such as 118 (Channel 8) and Tanglin (Channel 5) were also a welcome addition as they provided platforms to present topical issues in a light-hearted manner.
While feedback on dramas produced during the period in review was largely positive, the PACs felt that some producers could imbue more depth and balance into their stories.
2. PSB programmes with more innovative programming formats and better audience engagement
The period in review saw MDA supporting more than 20 programmes from MediaCorp and StarHub under its PSB Contestable Funds Scheme (PCFS). The PACs commended these programmes for their originality and for injecting diversity into the PSB landscape. Some PCFS-supported programmes were also developed into transmedia content like comic books and these efforts paved the way for better audience engagement.
3. In-programme advertising should be clearly distinguishable, prevalence of health supplement advertisements on minority radio stations an area of concern
The PAC also reviewed public feedback relating to broadcast programmes that were brought to MDA’s attention. For example, some members of the public had highlighted that some advertising segments on Channel 5 and 8 were inserted just before a programme’s end credits. These segments featured the programme’s characters promoting products on the same sets as if they were part of the programme. While the PACs did not have objections to the use of a programme’s artistes or sets for advertorials, they felt that such advertising segments should be clearly distinguishable from the rest of the programme.
Categorised in Advisory Committee for Chinese Programmes (ACCESS), Channel 8 News, channelnewsasia.com, EN, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Programme Advisory Committee, The Straits Times, Toggle SG.
The Programme Advisory Committees (PACs) are advisory bodies set up by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to provide community feedback on the range and quality of TV and radio programmes, as well as advice on content standards in programmes and advertisements on the broadcast platforms.
There are currently four broadcast PACs, namely the Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE), Advisory Committee for Chinese Programmes (ACCESS), Indian Programmes Advisory Committee (IPAC), and Malay Programmes Advisory Committee (MPAC).
The Committees’ Work and New Areas of Focus
For the first time, the PACs conducted combined meetings to discuss common issues that spanned the four languages in order to take a more holistic view on programmes.
Combined PAC Annual Report
The PACs will henceforth issue consolidated annual reports which will highlight common observations across the four committees, capture language specific observations and provide recommendations for the industry and the MDA.
COMMITTEES’ KEY OBSERVATIONS
Higher production values, with some progress in standard of research
Within each language, the PACs noted progress in terms of more programmes with higher production values. Members saw more programmes which stood apart from other local productions in terms of higher technical standards, post production values (e.g. visual treatment, effects), better standards of research and/or level of realism in productions.
Several examples were cited. The third season of Channel 8’s police drama, C.L.I.F 3 <<警徽天职 3>>, based on real life police cases, was realistic and had well conceived art direction.
New platforms for PSB
The PACs welcomed the fact that viewers could watch local PSB (Public Service Broadcast) programmes on more platforms such as Toggle and xinMSN.
The “PAC Choice” takes reference from the concept of “PACE Choice”, which the PACE included as part of their earlier reports to recognise well-made English PSB programmes.
Accordingly, this list features 50 PSB programmes (or local content) across languages identified by members as being well-conceived and produced on the whole. Members responded to areas including creativity and freshness of ideas, presentation format, meaningful subject matter and overall engagement and informative value.
Members intend for the list to serve as an encouragement to the producers and an endorsement of what is regarded as positive examples of quality PSB programmes.
The titles listed below are in no particular order of merit.
C.L.I.F, Season 3 <<警徽天职 3>> (Ch 8, Drama, MediaCorp Studios)
The third season of the police drama was a commendable collaboration between MediaCorp and Singapore Police Force in incorporating true-to-life police cases to deliver realism in the series.
(II) SUMMARY OF KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
Overseas collaborations to support cross-cultural efforts
ACCESS found the recent collaborations between MediaCorp and Malaysia in several drama productions featuring Malaysian locations and cast, such as “正义武馆” (“Code of Honour”) and “渔米人家” (“The Seeds of Life”) to be refreshing.
(III) OBSERVATIONS ON AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE RANGE AND QUALITY OF CHINESE PROGRAMMES
18 The Committee was heartened to note that the primetime slot of 7pm, has been occupied by local content since the Taiwanese drama “爱” (“Love”) ended its run. It is glad to see productions such as “甘榜情” (“Kampong Ties”) and “正义武馆” (“Code of Honour”) during this drama slot, which also incorporated Malaysian locations and cast. ACCESS encouraged MediaCorp to be pro-active in looking out for opportunities for overseas collaborations in order to harness resources beyond Singapore.
20 Of the local dramas produced over the past two years, the Committee found the following to be of the best quality: “四个门牌一个梦” (“Love Thy Neighbour”) which explored social issues of concern to Singaporeans; “正义武馆” (“Code of Honour”) for its inspirational storyline and authentic historical setting; and “行医”(“The Oath”) for providing
a balance of viewpoints and exploring ethical dilemmas between from Western medicine and TCM.
Source: Media Development Authority ACCESS Report
(IV) OBSERVATIONS ON AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE
RANGE AND QUALITY OF CHINESE PROGRAMMES
39 For local dramas, ACCESS indicated that it enjoyed Channel 8’s productions such as “书包太重” (My School Daze), “游戏人生” (Priceless Wonder) and “不凡的爱” (By My Side) for their exploration of the universal themes of friendship and family relationships. In particular, the Committee found that “游戏人生” (Priceless Wonder) and “不凡的爱” (By My Side) were valuable in creating awareness among viewers on social issues such as the ills of problem gambling and promiscuity, as well as the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
OBSERVATIONS ON THE RANGE AND QUALITY OF CHINESE PROGRAMMES
20 The Committee finds that the theme of violence was exploited and
sensationalised within the Ch 8 drama, “破茧而出” (Metamorphosis). In particular, there was an episode which had contained prolonged and intense scenes of violence and brutality towards women. This was unnecessary and could also instill fear in younger viewers, especially since it was scheduled during Family Viewing Hours.
g) Better Scheduling of Programmes
58 The Committee recommends strongly that all programmes shown during Family Viewing Hours be suitable for a general audience. Some examples of content unsuitable for broadcast during Family Viewing Hours, i.e. before 10pm, which were brought to the attention of the Committee include:
(iii) Ch 8’s drama “破茧而出” (Metamorphosis), containing graphic scenes of violence and brutality.
The following are the responses from the broadcasters to ACCESS’ feedback and recommendations:
a) MEDIACORP’S RESPONSE
Observation of Chinese Programmes
MediaCorp notes the Committee’s feedback about the excessive violence in Channel 8’s “破茧而出” (Metamorphosis). The broadcaster would like to assure the Committee that it is mindful of the messages borne by its serials, which is why all of its serials bear very positive messages. The word “drama” entails vivid, emotional and dramatic elements the devoid of which, would fizzle interest. MediaCorp very much appreciates the Committee’s acknowledgment that our serials are ultimately of good morals and would further appreciate understanding that unlike single-episode dramas, serials’ plots would unravel over its length.