In a bid to boost the media sector in Singapore as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has introduced a series of initiatives.
“Complementing the broad-based measures announced by the Finance Minister in the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity Budgets, these latest initiatives will help media companies benefit from more production project opportunities and reduced operating costs, as well as assist media professionals and freelancers build up their resilience through training and upskilling,” said an IMDA statement.
Aiming to protect jobs in the media industry the IMDA has launched a new SGD 8 million Public Service Content (PSC) Fund that “will catalyse more production projects that in turn, benefits media professionals in the coming months”.
Under this initiative, Mediacorp, Viddsee and SPH will commission short-form content for their digital platforms through a Call for Proposal. IMDA has asked media companies and talent to use the Circuit Breaker period to start planning, conceptualising and submitting their proposals to be ready for production work when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
In addition, IMDA will match the Singapore Association for Motion Picture Professionals’ (SAMPP) COVID-19 Relief Fund contribution of SGD 20,000 to support media practitioners affected by the cancellation and postponement of projects.
IMDA will also support the upskilling of Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) by providing a training grant of up to 90% of course fees, capped at USD 3,000 per course under the Talent Assistance (T-Assist) Programme. In addition to subsidised fees, the IMDA said that Self-Employed Persons, including freelancers, can benefit from training allowance for eligible courses.
IMDA will also help media companies reduce their operating costs. The Film Exhibition and Distribution Licence Fees will be waived from April 17 with the waiver applying to new licence applications and renewal of existing licences. Classification fees for films (public exhibition and video distribution), video games and label fees will also be waived.
“The Government will continue to support our media companies and professionals as they weather this trying period, so that they can continue to create content that inspires, uplifts and binds us as one united people. Media companies can look forward to more project opportunities and reduced operating costs, while media professionals and freelancers can benefit from subsidised training fees to sharpen their craft during this downtime,” said Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran. “These initiatives form part of our larger national effort to protect jobs and livelihoods. In the longer term, the Government will continue to build capabilities to better prepare our workers, businesses and people to seize opportunities. Working together, we will overcome this period of uncertainty and emerge stronger as one”.
IMDA also aims to help local media companies strengthen their capabilities and increase their competitiveness by leveraging the expertise of MNC partners. IMDA along with international content partners such as WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks APAC and ViacomCBS Networks Asia, is bringing forward the implementation of the Capabilities Partnership Programme (CPP), which pairs media MNCs with local media companies to develop “Made in Singapore” content.
“For example, ViacomCBS Networks Asia will develop up to three regional entertainment or family content Intellectual Properties (IPs) in May 2020. WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks APAC plans to commence development of up to three regional original content IPs for HBO Asia in June 2020.” said the statement.
The CPP programme is expected to benefit 80 to 100 local media companies over the next 12 months.