MDA boosts media sector

In a climate of recession and uncertainty, Singapore’s Media Development Agency (MDA) announced it aims not just to meet, but to exceed the targets of its Media 21 Blueprint. With a financial boost to the tune of S$250 million, a number of new initiatives were also rolled out. Magz Osborne reports

The Genexis theatre at MDA’s swish new Fusionopolis HQ was full to capacity 12 March 2009 as MDA top executives addressed key industry members at the annual Media Business Forum. “The newspapers are too full of bad news recently,” said MDA CEO Dr Christopher Chia, “which is why we’re proud to be sharing some good news with you all.” Chia went on to say that the Government aims to spend S$250 million (US$163 million) this year to sustain the growth momentum of Singapore’s media sector amidst the economic downturn. This spending, which includes funding from the National Research Foundation (NRF) to boost research and development in interactive digital media, as well as support for public service programmes, is projected to support about 2,000 jobs when the projects come onstream in the coming year. Singapore’s media sector has enjoyed steady growth since the industry’s national blueprint Media 21 was unveiled. As at 2006, the media sector contributed US$3.2 billion value- added and US$12.7 billion revenue to the economy, employing 54,700 workers. The compounded annual growth rate of the media sector from 1996 to 2006 was 8.0 percent, higher than 5.2 percent for the overall economy. Chia showed a projection of the anticipated growth of the media sector in line with the original Media 21 funding – then the new revised targets thanks to the latest cash injection. The Government announced in Parliament February 2009 that it was setting aside US$150 million over five years under the Singapore Media Fusion plan – representing a 40 percent increase in funding from the previous Media 21 blueprint. That is on top of existing NRF support of US$326 million over five years for interactive digital media research and development. • Leading the first wave of project calls at the Media Business Forum was the request for innovative public service programmes that can travel across platforms and borders. In a separate call under its ‘360° TV’ initiative to build brands and franchises around media properties, MDA requested for original TV concepts that leverage various digital media distribution avenues and partnerships. • A call was also initiated for proposals to transform Singapore into a digital music hub, build the music ecosystem and develop music services to support content productions. • A “Future of Media” initiative that aims to form five partner networks for companies to share resources, collaborate, experiment and innovate. The partner networks are Future Mobile, Future Games, Future TV, Future Worlds and Future Books. • 20 companies, including Friendster, G Element, Mozat, QALA Singapore, SingTel and Sun Microsystems, are joining MDA in calling for proposals. The calls will collate the business requirements and demands of technology and innovative applications of these companies, and provide the industry with a network of user base, distribution networks and development platforms for industry members to leverage. • MDA is working with Workforce Development Agency and the industry on programmes to train and upgrade media manpower, leveraging initiatives such as Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) and Professional Conversion Programme (PCP). • A new programme – Media Training & Attachment (META) – will give global exposure and work opportunities to local talents and media professionals by matching, and upgrading their skills where needed, to projects and companies with corresponding needs. • The revamped Singapore Media Fusion industry portal (www.smf.sg) will incorporate a bulletin board that allows organisations that are hiring, to post their manpower or resource requirements. Individuals can also upload their CVs for prospective employers to assess for a better job match. “Our slate of initiatives is aimed at saving and creating jobs, and also maintaining a strong pipeline of projects through an increased investment in the media sector. By enhancing the media sector’s digital value proposition and increasing efforts in capability development, we hope to strengthen the foundation for growth,“ said Dr Chia. ASIAIMAGE



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