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6 in 10 polled think film and arts content regulation is appropriate: REACH study

 Age and parenthood emerged as two factors that determined attitudes towards current regulations in the study. Younger respondents were more likely to view current regulations as somewhat restrictive, while those who were parents were less likely to hold these views.   

SINGAPORE: Six out of 10 people feel that current film and arts content regulation is appropriate, according to a study conducted by Government feedback unit REACH.

Released on Wednesday (Aug 20), the study polled 1,500 Singapore residents aged 15 and above over the phone in the first quarter of 2014. Respondents were randomly selected and their profiles broadly mirror the national population in terms of age, gender and ethnicity. About 19 per cent polled felt the regulations were somewhat restrictive, while 7 per cent felt they were somewhat relaxed. 

To better understand the views of those who felt that the issue was relevant to them, REACH focused on two groups of respondents: those who feel that media content regulation is an important issue to them; and frequent patrons of movies and arts performances.

Of those polled, 67 per cent feel the issue of media content regulation is important, while 46 per cent watch a movie or an arts performance at least once every few months.

Attitudes towards current regulations in the study seem to vary between young people and parents: younger respondents were more likely to view current regulations as somewhat restrictive, compared to parents. Those who were most likely to view content regulations as somewhat restrictive tended to be frequent patrons of film and arts performances, had no children, and identified the regulation issue as being important to them.  

Those who felt that current content regulations were too relaxed cited the need to protect the young from inappropriate content and a largely conservative society as their rationale. Those who felt that current regulations were too restrictive, on the other hand, cited the need for content variety, and the importance of letting audiences make their own decisions as their reasons.

ARTS GROUPS RESPOND TO SURVEY

Some arts practitioners say the results may not be reflective of attitudes of arts-lovers, as more than half of those polled are not frequent patrons.

Theatre company Pangdemonium! would have like to see more of such patrons polled, so that arts-lovers can have a greater say. "It's a shame that more regular patrons of movies and arts performances were not polled. This could result in the non arts-goers having a say over what arts lovers can watch," said artistic director Tracie Pang. 

Those that run contemporary arts venue The Substation also hope to see more consultation with the arts community when it comes to regulations. Said General Manager Emily Hoe: "For us, the mainstream isn't really the space we're looking at and focusing on. We're looking at the outside, at the edges, and we've been at the forefront of that. For us, it's more a question whether it will make any changes to those peripheries and really how the regulations will take into account that diversity of the types of works that will be presented in Singapore."

Ms Hoe also urged for a more "consultative and more transparent process in terms of how the criteria formed and really bringing a diverse groups of arts organisations to give their feedback on how those processes should be carried out".

THE ROAD AHEAD

As values and norms change with time, the challenge ahead will be to "gradually calibrate" the regulations in a way that the majority of society finds balanced, said REACH. Findings from the study will be shared with the relevant Government agencies to help them shape their policies. 

The Media Development Authority (MDA) said it was heartened that six in 10 people find the current content regulations balanced. It added that the REACH findings are a useful resource that it will study carefully, as part of its continuing efforts to understand public sentiments towards film and arts content regulation. 

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