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Singapore to better support media professionals, freelancers

The Ministry of Communications and Information will also start to require media companies to adopt good industry practices to qualify for Government grants and funding.  

SINGAPORE: A skills framework for media professionals along with better support for media freelancers are some of the measures in the pipeline at the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), said Minister of State Chee Hong Tat in Parliament on Monday (Mar 6).

Elaborating on the ministry’s Media Manpower Plan, Mr Chee said the media industry’s attractiveness will be enhanced by a framework jointly developed by the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SkillsFuture Singapore, to serve as a common reference for job seekers, media professionals and employers.

“It will contain information on current and emerging skills for different occupational levels, as well as career progression pathways for different media-related jobs,” he explained. “Employers can use this framework to design talent development plans, to attract and retain talent for their companies.”

For media freelancers, IMDA and NTUC are developing a tripartite standard by 2017 for the procurement of their services, he added.

“This is done in consultation with media companies and freelancers, and it will provide a list of good employment practices, such as having written contracts that clearly spell out payment terms, intellectual property rights and how to handle disputes,” said Mr Chee.

“In partnership with the Singapore Mediation Centre, IMDA will also provide subsidised mediation services to help resolve disputes between media companies and freelancers on contractual matters including late payment and sometimes, non-payment.”

“These moves aim to encourage a better work relationship between media companies and freelancers ... I also urge freelancers to focus on their career development and retirement adequacy, including contributing regularly to their CPF and Medisave accounts.”

Mr Chee said MCI will also partner with key industry players and industry associations to develop media professionals and propagate good practices.

“We will start by requiring media companies to adopt the above mentioned good industry practices if they want to qualify for Government grants and PSB (Public Service Broadcast) funding,” he noted. “IMDA will take action against companies that wrongfully delay or withhold payment to their staff and freelancers.”

ENHANCING PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING

Mr Chee announced that IMDA and Mediacorp will establish a Content Development Fund to keep PSB content offerings “relevant and fresh” as well as to encourage more experimentation with new formats and technologies like augmented and virtual reality.

“We cannot match the budgets of Hollywood productions or Korean dramas, so we must compete differently by engaging our viewers through quality local content,” he said, adding that locally-produced PSB programmes can best capture and convey a unique Singaporean flavour.

Mediacorp will also invest in improving online platform Toggle and its offerings, with support from MCI.

“This year, Mediacorp will roll out an even bigger slate of Toggle Originals. These will involve collaboration with independent producers and tertiary institutions, and cover a diverse spectrum of genres to offer more content choices,” said Mr Chee. “For better user experience, Toggle will also enhance its streaming reliability, navigation, content recommendation and personalisation features.”

Adding that Mediacorp would reposition its Okto TV channel as a Children and Sports one, he said: “We will continue to support Mediacorp’s efforts to build its capabilities in producing good quality programmes, for both TV and digital channels.”

“This includes enhancing training in core skills such as commissioning, directing, storytelling and content production.”

“IMDA will partner Mediacorp to build a pipeline of young creative talent for the media industry,” said Mr Chee. “Through new scholarship and apprenticeship programmes, as well as collaborations with schools, we want to discover young talent and groom them early in media and content production. This includes a programme to develop young producers to create content targeted at youths.”

Starting this year, Mediacorp will also increase the amount of outsourcing to independent production houses. “It will also explore more co-production opportunities,” said Mr Chee. “Ultimately what we want is to have a win-win arrangement to bring quality local content to our viewers.” 

MEDIAPRENEUR A USEFUL INITIATIVE

MCI will also continue to develop a business-friendly and pro-growth environment for Singapore media companies to innovate and experiment with new ideas, said Mr Chee.

"One such useful initiative is Mediapreneur, an incubation programme by Mediacorp that supports media start-ups through seed funding, mentoring, networking and marketing opportunities through Mediacorp’s platforms," he said, adding that several of these start-ups are already partnering business units in Mediacorp to develop interesting concepts.

Mr Chee said that he met some of the start-ups and their founders, pointing out that they are passionate about their ideas and appreciate the support from Mediacorp and IMDA. "I look forward to seeing some of their ideas being adopted by media companies ... to produce entertaining content and to raise the level of enjoyment for our viewers," he said.

MEDIACORP "WANTS TO PARTNER THE BEST TALENT"

In response, Mediacorp said it warmly welcomed Mr Chee's remarks.

"Mediacorp has an essential purpose - to entertain and inform Singapore audiences with quality programmes and content that bring us together and enrich our lives. Our review of Mediacorp, conducted with our shareholder Temasek Holdings, provides the direction in which we will innovate, invest and stay financially viable," it said in a statement.

"We will continue to reinvigorate our content by listening to our audiences and responding with creative approaches. Mediacorp also wants to partner the best talent across the ecosystem and be a catalyst for ideas and collaboration. We’re excited about the opportunities ahead.”