Friday, February 22, 2013

TV Channel Surfing in Singapore

I'm ashamed to admit it; but I do watch a lot of television.  I know it's bad for my health, and I pray frequently that the Little One won't pick up the habit; but it's the only activity that can totally shut off my raging thoughts even for just a little while.

I'm the type of person who has a hard time shutting myself off mentally.  It's enough to drive me bonkers; but as long as I'm glued to the boob tube, I'm fine.  Keeps my sanity in check.  In fact, it's my stress-reliever after a hard day on the job.  So it isn't really a wonder that I'll be continuing my bad habit here in Singapore. 

Now unlike in the Philippines, we, for the meantime, opted not to have cable television installed for a number of reasons.  So for now, we content ourselves with watching shows at the local channels.  And believe me, there are some distinct differences one notices.

TV channel surfing in Singapore

All for One, One for All.

The funny thing with the television channels here, they're all being operated by the same company -- MediaCorp.  Yes, folks, all 7 of them are run by the same media outfit.  So it isn't unusual to see commercials for a TV show from a certain channel being shown in another.

Now if you think it can be quite boring, what without the competition and all (just like the drama we have in the Philippines), well, they don't really try to compete much with each other.  For you see, television channels here cater to different demographics.

Let me try to explain it better.  It's a known fact that Singapore is composed mainly of Chinese, Malay, and Indian races, plus a scattering of other English-speaking Western and Asian expats.  That being said, they have particular channels catering specifically to each of these groups of people.

For instance, Channel 5 is a 24-hour news and general entertainment channel with shows in English (this is also where they showed Point of Entry, a local crime show that Simon Ibarra and Karylle guest starred in.)

The Jeff Probst Show at Channel 5

Channel 8 and Channel U shows mostly programs in Mandarin, Suria caters to the Malay community, and Vasantham focuses on shows for the Indian populace.  Okto is the Little One's and my favorite channel.  It airs pre-school and children's shows during the day, and lifestyle and art specials at night.

Kiddie shows at Okto

And of course, there's Channel NewsAsia, their international news TV channel broadcasting in English.

Channel NewsAsia
Informative Programs for All

Another thing I like about the shows here in Singapore are their public information programs that aim to keep its citizens informed of any important changes.  It's not unusual to see ads or shows about new government initiatives and also some historical programs. 

There are, in fact, some really good, quality local programs.  I particularly loved the show, Foodage, a short TV series that talks about popular Singapore food and their connection to the nation's history.  Clearly their TV producers do not underestimate their viewership's general intelligence.

Another program that I feel is worth mentioning is the children's show, Mat Yoyo. What's remarkable is that this show is actually produced in 4 languages (each representing the 4 main demographics) and shown in their corresponding channels.  Now that's going the extra mile.

Mat Yoyo

But A Short Life to Give

What I do find a little puzzling, though, is the short life of their programs.  It just seems like the hype generated leading up to the showing of a particular program is longer than the life of the TV series itself.

For example, we've been subjected to daily commercial ads and interview snippets of a local crime show called Code of Law months before the program was to be officially aired in September 2012.  When the show did finally come out, it lasted for 10 episodes only or about 3 months on air.  Quite short, if you ask me.

Aside from that, select channels here do not broadcast for long during the day.  Suria airs shows from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 m.n. only; while Vasantham from 3:00 p.m. to around 12:30 m.n. 

Quality Entertainment?

While I do love their informative shows and other documentaries, local TV programming, like in our shores, is still a hit-and-miss thing.

Two of the popular crimes shows here, which were shown in succession (after a few weeks interval in between, of course), actually showed an episode with almost the exact same content -- the case of the Filipino maid who killed her fellow kababayan over money matters.  Quite gruesome since the killer chopped the body up and dumped parts of it in various areas of the state, including the Orchard MRT station. It's an actual case that happened here in 2005.

Now I know this really does have the makings of a good crime episode, but using the same formula twice?  And in successive shows, at that?  I think something new is in order.

Other Media

Aside from television, MediaCorp also broadcasts 13 radio stations (Mike Casem is actually a deejay at one of the stations) and handles a number of magazines and a newspaper, too.  Their TODAY newspaper is, in fact, the country's 2nd most-read paper, delivering important news in a compact form (i.e. not a full on broadsheet); but it is distributed for free and can be claimed in most major areas with huge foot traffic.

Is Unified Better?

I've often wonder what would happen if all our TV networks worked for the greater good of the community.  Maybe we'd have less drama and more quality shows on air.  Maybe we'd have more and better documentaries and shows aimed at informing the public made available on free TV (although, I must admit, GMA News TV is indeed a great initiative)  We can thus dream, for now.  L


  1. I don't watch television a lot, but I download a lot of tv series.hahaha. :)

  2. Mat Yoyo is a remarkable idea but executed poorly. Have you seen their English version? You'll need subtitles to understand what the host was talking about. You'd expect a better English speaker as it is an educational show and here you have someone forcing an obvious fake accent---it didn't work though.

    Singapore actually gets a lot of dramas from Hong Kong and Malaysia. They're the better quality dramas compare to the Singaporean ones.

    1. Yes, I've actually watched the English version. And I have to agree that I did also had a hard time trying to understand their accent (not only just this though, there are many other shows, too).

      But as I mentioned in the post, I applaud the idea. And yes, execution does need some work. =)

    2. You'll get used to the Singlish accent. :) Mat yoyo actually started out as a Malay kids show in the 80s.

      I'm just quite particular with the English version as the kids can pronounce better than the adult host. She pronounced frame as "frime", worried as "wore-red", decorate as "dahkowreyt", jeepney as "dyipneh", introduce as "introsdose"---these are common English words. It's quite disturbing and appalling to watch and hear.

      If you've seen the episode of her with the Tamil host, now he is good! Very jazzy voice, well enunciated words, kid-friendly but not overcompensated and hyperactive. The cats are adorable as well.

      You should try looking for Singaporean short films if you want quality entertainment from them. Most are family-oriented. Very basic but heart-felt stories nonetheless.

    3. Haven't tried watching the other versions since I can only understand English and not the rest of the languages. =)

    4. I actually meant an episode in Okto's version and not in Vasantham. The Tamil host was speaking in English, way better than the actual host of the English version.


      I can't understand some of the languages but the kids just make it all cute.

  3. if we only have one TV network, im afraid that could be easily politicized and would only air programs that may not be criticizing the government. even in democracy, there's a control. bt that's only my imagination. baka nga naman maging gaya ng singapore. ;-)

    1. Well, a lot of locals here may tell you that they feel there is strict censorship in Singapore. You'll be somewhat surprised. =)

  4. i like watching cable channels esp NHK and TLC. I watch tv not only to be entertained but more so to learn something new. I hope local channels in the Philippines improve the quality of their shows.

    The Girl with the Muji Hat

  5. I'm not fond of TV, I think I can live without it as long as I have internet. hehe! we have no cable too.

  6. I used to watch TV a lot back in the day, back when Friends and Wil and Grace were still on air :). Oh, and Ally McBeal too :)

  7. Living here in Thailand gave me the much needed respite from Philippine TV. I don't miss TV. Maybe when I have a family I will not buy a TV or just limit TV watching.

    I prefer that my kids read books than waste their time on TV.

    I am not sure if it would be good for the Philippines to have all channels be owned by one company. I bet information and news will be controlled, especially that TV is a powerful media tool.


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