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Статья опубликована в рамках: Научного журнала «Студенческий» № 28(198)

Рубрика журнала: Технические науки

Секция: Телекоммуникации

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Библиографическое описание:
Kyiko E. SINGAPORE'S TV AND MEDIASYSTEM // Студенческий: электрон. научн. журн. 2022. № 28(198). URL: https://sibac.info/journal/student/198/262895 (дата обращения: 21.02.2024).


Kyiko Ekaterina

student, Department of Journalism Theory and History, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia,

Russia, Moscow


Television in Singapore's media system constitutes one of the main segments of the country's overall media. This article describes the emergence of the «economic miracle» media system and the historical development of television in the country. It also analyses this segment of the media market and draws key conclusions about the current format of the main TV channels.


Keywords: Singapore, media system, TV, economic, channel, TV programmes.


Singapore is one of those countries that have experienced an unusual history and has developed in what is known as «its own» way. It is a country that has not only experienced colonialism and dictatorship but has also become what is known as an «oriental wonder» with a very advanced economy [1].

To begin with, it's worth examining the main aspects related to the history of Singapore, and then go deeper into Singapore's media system.

Singapore is currently a parliamentary republic. The cabinet holds the power in the country, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the helm. However, the president can also play a significant role in critical decisions, especially regarding new projects and laws.

Scholars and researchers call Singapore an «economic miracle» because the country has achieved its status as an Asian business hub in just a few years. Moreover, the main resource in achieving this goal was human.

Modern Singapore also boasts of being honest and non-corrupt, as at one time, stealing a lot of money or bribing officials was not just punishable by fines or criminal charges, but also by the physical punishment of having limbs (e.g., fingers or toes) removed.

Singapore's history began with the arrival of the British colonialists, like India in that it too survived the East India Company. However, instead of becoming a great colonial country, Singapore has become an overpopulated and poverty-stricken island. The country is a multicultural hub with a mix of completely different races that have lived in the area for over 200 years: Chinese, Malians, Indians, Arabs, Persians, etc. [2, p. 156]

Thanks to the British authorities, the country eventually began to improve its connectivity and develop, and in 1965, it became completely free of its colonizers.

After the rapprochement with Malaysia, Singapore faced the problem of commonality. The fact is that multi-ethnicity and European colonialism had its downsides for the establishment of a democratic and anti-communist state that was established and acceptable to the frontier countries [3, p. 100].

The country did not have a unified culture that could help in building basic institutions. The first attempt at cohesion was when Singapore completely rejected (expelled) those peoples who could pose a threat to the development and well-being of the country.

The second attempt at nation-building fell on the shoulders of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He insisted on respecting the basic codes and the need for a common language for such a country. He cited many democratic countries, where English was a «unifying factor».  Furthermore, Kuan Yew also tried to create a national ideology that would be built on full respect for other peoples' cultures and shared loyalties. [4, p. 10]

However, censorship has long been an issue in Singapore, so no one could oppose such development plans. Again, Kuan Yew wanted a strong central government, and since there was no opposition and no other viewpoints in the media, he succeeded.

The country was now heading towards dictatorship or even authoritarianism. Unintentionally, the Prime Minister has created a country full of authoritarian control, where he, as head of parliament, rules the country and the President is a kind of «screen».

However, through authoritarianism, Singapore has managed to become one of the most advanced economic powers in the world.

Initially, the economy was built on trade and was linked to the country's many ports. Even now, Singapore is one of the world's largest trading cities. Moreover, after World War II, the country began to improve its oil and textile industries, while also developing its banking industry. Consequently, it soon developed from a Third World country into an industrialized and highly developed nation.

Today's economy is a developed market system, dependent on exports in electronics, pharmaceuticals, and information technology. Most importantly, during the rule of Lee Kuan Yew (from 1959 to 1990), a relatively poor country with numerous domestic problems not only became one of the most developed in the world but also raised its GDP per capita (now standing at more than 26,000 dollars). [5]

«We welcomed every investor... We went out of our way to help them start production», wrote Lee Kuan Yew. As a result, «American multinationals laid the foundation for Singapore's massive high-tech industry». [6]

However, to become a country of industrial progress, Singapore needed a well-developed media system, and more specifically, telecommunications, as they played an important role in the development of every industry. It also needed advertising and a so-called «name» in the marketplace. Therefore, a great deal of attention was given to the creation of a defined media system.

As mentioned earlier, Singapore's media system has been shaped by authoritarian rule. Indeed, the Prime Minister controlled all media outlets, which also led to the development of censorship.

Because of the country's thriving one-party system, the renowned civil society organization Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 160th out of 167 countries with a free press in 2021. The United Arab Emirates is not far behind. [7]

However, it is impossible not to mention the fact that the UK has left Singapore with advanced, at the time, telecommunications technology. In principle, Singapore's modern media system was based on this technology.

In the opinion of the government, this system was to form a huge network, providing full information to both global communities and business elite, as well as ordinary citizens.

This «media network» was to use and develop radio communications, disseminate the Internet, and link computer systems with each other.  However, at an early stage of development, it was very difficult for an authoritarian government to establish contacts with foreign media and ensure domestic media freedom.

Currently, Singapore has established various bodies that are responsible for media development across the country. These include the Media Development Department, the Media Development Department and the Ministry of Communications and Information.

The latter is the most developed ministry as it is responsible not only for the media but also for the fields of arts, heritage, publishing, info-communication, and government public relations.

The body was established when Kuan Yew first came to power (1959), after which it has undergone numerous attempts at reform, eventually becoming the Ministry of Communication and Information and then the Ministry of General Development.

The last change occurred only in 2012, when it was finally renamed the Ministry of Communication and Information.

There are also two oral boards within the ministry worth noting. The first body is called the Media Development Directorate.

It was formed 2 years after the final approval of the Ministry's functions and is, in fact, the most important engine of Singapore's media system.

To stimulate the growth of the creative economy and to develop the creative industry, the Singapore Economic Supervision Committee within the established Authority proposed the Media 21 Plan in 2002. In this plan were the most important areas that needed to be closed for the media system to work properly. [8]

The main functions of the Media Development Authority are to provide jobs in the media industry, to attract foreign investment and to set standards to produce quality content.

As mentioned earlier, a key project under the Media Development Authority was the so-called Media 21 scheme. The project was to create conditions for the development of media business and use new opportunities to provide unique tools for digital media. Moreover, due to the development of the project, the Authority revised its funding sources and allocated funds to additional sectors such as animation, interactive media, publishing, etc.

The Media Development Authority is also responsible not only for developing Singapore's media system, but also for improving it. It shapes Internet policy, through which harmful content is restricted. Moreover, it imposes certain standards that implement public media literacy in society. Singapore's society, through this body, can better understand the functioning of the media and feel safer and less likely to be associated with cybercrime.

However, even in such a serious body, there is censorship that prevents certain aspects from being developed. Or, in other cases, the Authority simply does not agree with certain aspects of the areas it regulates. For example, in 2014, the Authority banned the film To Singapore with Love as it considered that the film undermined the nation's national integrity. [9] The same situation occurred at the Singapore International Arts Festival when the Authority banned 31 photographs from being exhibited because the images depicted Kurdish women associated with suicide bombers and the banned organization ISIS («ISIS», a terrorist organization banned in Russia).

Thus, the Authority is not always the engine of progress in Singapore, but can also make some unwarranted adjustments, relying only on its own rule.

However, thanks to all the above-mentioned agencies, the media system in Singapore is now in a phase of high-tech development, even despite the authoritarian censorship.

The peculiarity of the development of the Singapore's media segment such as Television begins with the pilot TV programme aired on February 15, 1963, which lasted only 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The TV programme featured the national flag and the national anthem, followed by the appearance of the former Minister of Culture, who spoke of a new round of evolution in Singapore's television.

The first film that was shown on TV was a 15-minute documentary, «Television Watching Singapore». After that, there were other TV programmes and reports, comedy shows, etc. [10]

What made those TV programmes special was that they were made to resemble the American and Western European ones that existed at the time.

There were very few television sets, and one set was owned by 58 people and broadcasting was supposed to be on channel 5 which is now one of the most popular channels in Singapore. [11]

Another unusual feature of Singapore's television is its broadcasting in several languages. At the time (1963), channels broadcasted TV programmes in the four official languages (English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil).

Soon there was a second not insignificant channel in Singapore called '8'. It was bilingual and specialized in certain TV programmes only.

Other channels have since emerged, promoted by the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. After independence both TV channels (8 and 5) became national TV channels, and the Radio Television Division was established.

The functions of television changed from entertainment and information to education, and Channel 8 began to show TV programmes prepared by the Ministry of Education for schoolchildren of different grades with different language levels.

In 1974, color television appeared in Singapore. The first TV programme was the World Cup final.

The 1980s also saw changes in Chinese sector programming. There was less use of the Chinese dialect, which was not common to Singaporeans.

At the same time, the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation began to take shape, initially as a service providing up-to-date information on the weather, travel, holidays and so on. [12]

The Singapore TV system revolutionized politics and channel content in a very short period. Also, several completely different channels were created at once. For example, in 1984, after the formation of the Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 12 was created with serious cultural and educational TV programmes.

Mandarin-language films began to appear, and competitions were held to find new faces for live broadcasting.

Because of its rapid take-off, Singapore's television media system evolved so rapidly that, by the 1990s, all its channels were broadcast in stereo.

In the late 20th century, private television content distribution companies with their own TV programmes began to emerge. Cable TV thus emerged in Singapore, which by 2002 consisted of more than 40 international news and movie channels on a pay-per-view basis.

In 1994, the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation split into three separate companies, the Television Corporation of Singapore, the Radio Corporation, and the Television Corporation 12. The channel policies changed again and in 1999, NewsAsia, Singapore's first specialized news channel, was launched. From 2000, it went international. [13]

Also in Singapore, from 2006, online television began to emerge, which through digital streaming and the internet could provide the same services as traditional media. After small changes in internet broadcasting, Singapore's famous online channels, StarHub GO, SingTel TV GO and Dash, were formed.

In 2020, the famous internet channel «Toggle» was also renamed meWatch. Officially, we can call this year the end of the formation of internet television. Special attention should be paid to the internal content of this channel. It has a Premium subscription, as well as various sections with sports, serials, movies, and news. Everything is presented in recordings. However, there is also a Live broadcast in real time. The channel's website itself adheres to a certain style, black and purple, which gives a certain charm. What's more, series of completely different characters and productions, ranging from the most famous Korean doramas to Chinese melodramas, are designed for different types of viewers.

Music TV channels such as MTV Asia (English) and MTV Chinese (Chinese) also enjoy steady interest among viewers.

Television in Singapore is also censored and controlled by the authorities, but there is more open space for journalists and media workers in this segment of the media system to express their views.



  1. Singapore: Handbook / USSR Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oriental Studies. URL: https://www.krugosvet.ru/enc/strany_mira/SINGAPUR.html (date of treatment: 04.07.2022)
  2. C. Justin. Historical Dictionary of Singapore // Lanham: Scarecrow Press. 2013. Vol. 76. P. 396
  3. J. E. Abshire. The History of Singapore. Illustrated // Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. 2011. P. 179
  4. Lee Kuan Yew. From Third World to First // HarperCollins Publishers Inc. 2000. P. 752
  5. The History of Singapore's Economic Development. URL: https://www.thoughtco.com/singapores-economic-development-1434565 (date of treatment: 10.07.2022)
  6. L. Hong, Z. Huimei. Lee Kuan Yew Through the Eyes of Chinese Scholars. URL: https://www.ntu.edu.sg/docs/librariesprovider86/research/lee-kuan-yew-s-thoughts-on-talent-and-singapore-s-development-strategy.pdf?sfvrsn=3d96f36b_2
  7. Reporters without borders. URL: https://rsf.org/en/ranking
  8. Media 21: Transforming Singapore into a Global Media City. URL: https://mn.gov/mnddc/asd-employment/pdf/03-M21-MDA.pdf (date of treatment: 15.07.2022)
  9. M. Salleh. Appeal to reclassify rating of To Singapore, With Love rejected // The Straits Times. URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20141112134505/http://stcommunities.straitstimes.com/movies/2014/11/12/appeal-reclassify-rating-singapore-love-rejecte (date of treatment: 19.07.2022)
  10. J. Yong. Raja: This could be start of a cultural, social revolution // The Straits Times. URL: http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article.aspx?articleid=straitstimes19630216-1.2.7 (date of treatment: 21.07.2022)
  11. K. S. Lim. Tele comes of age // The Straits Times. URL: http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article.aspx?articleid=straitstimes19630402-1.2.138 (date of treatment: 22.07.2022)
  12. M. Gretchen. High hopes and old problems for the new station // The Straits Times. URL: http://newspapers.nl.sg/Digitised/Article.aspx?articleid=straitstimes19800326- (date of treatment: 24.07.2022)
  13. StarHub And SCV In Discussion On Possibility Of Merger. URL: http://www.starhub.com/about-us/newsroom/2001/april/30042001_starhubandscvindiscussiononpossibilityofmerger.html (date of treatment: 26.07.2022)

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