The report by the Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) 2007/2009 has been released by the Media Development Authority (MDA). You can read the report here, the online summary here. TODAY also ran a two-page feature, which you can also read here.
The report by the Programme Advisory Committee for English Programmes (PACE) reflects a considered study and overview of English programmes in Singapore. Indeed, the observations on info-programmes on the arts, culture, and sports – as well as those catered for the elderly – are valid arguments, and should be taken into consideration by the broadcasters. Moreover, praise is well-reserved for select entertainment programmes highlighting unique Singapore cultures; while critique is deserved for tasteless programmes such as The S Factor and Singtel Grid Girls, the lack of creativity on the part of producers who merely import concepts of reality shows from abroad.
However, when looking at radio programmes, there seems to be a tendency for the committee to look through the myopic perspectives of children and the elderly. This is reflected by the persistent reference to the slight sexual innuendos and references that had been meant as light-hearted humour. On closer inspection, the committee would have realised that stations such as 91.3FM and Class95 are aimed at a more mature audience, whom I believe have the discretion to differentiate between light humour and offensive, derogatory statements.
The committee needs to understand that television is not catered to a specific group with perceived tastes. In terms of children’s programme, while it is true that some depict violence and “glamourise” the supernatural, we must be cognizant of the fact that a complete removal of these programmes might turn children to the Internet, where episodes are readily available and easily accessible. Whatever the programmes, the key is sometimes not about their content per se, but how children are educated to place moral or value judgements on what they have watched. There comes a point when rules and regulations might even provide an incentive for children to rebel against the status quo, thus rendering all these “markers” irrelevant.
Overall, the report deserves merit for its effort to acknowledge that, like everything else, there is room for improvement in the broadcasting industry. However, through the process of the study, there seems to be the lack of real exchange or interaction with the producers or individuals involved in the programmes. This absence of balance and understanding undermines the value of the report, especially when many on the committee are professionals whose job-scopes revolve around students, youths and the elderly. Had there been a more representitive and consultative committee, this report would have been greatly enhanced.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.