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IMDA Chief Tan Kiat How Explains Singapore’s New Media Initiatives

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority announced a battery of initiatives on Wednesday. They are intended to continue the growth of the industry. IMDA chief executive Tan Kiat How explains their background.

Variety: What are the new initiatives? What is the IMDA planning to launch now and in the future?
Tan Kiat How: IMDA is committed to creating a vibrant and forward-looking infocomm and media ecosystem.

We see value in supporting digital content creation. Today, the IMDA announced the Public Service Media (PSM) Digital Partnership Fund, to support digital-first public service content arising from partnerships between Singapore media companies and overseas partners. The fund will help content producers tell Singapore stories on digital platforms and in fresh, new ways.

IMDA is also helping to develop new digital capabilities in the industry: In 2017, local production company Beach House Pictures piloted Singapore’s first VR lesson plan for students, together with Singapore’s Ministry of Education, IMDA and Samsung. Beach House also made a 4K reality series, “First Man Out,” in partnership with Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific and IMDA.

IMDA supports the growth of world-class Singapore talent. The Singapore Film Commission (SFC), which comes under IMDA, will launch the Southeast Asia Co-production Grant next year. The grant will be the first in the region to support feature-length, regional co-productions. The aim is to encourage collaborations between Singaporean creative producers and Southeast Asian filmmaking talent, to co-create quality Asian stories for the world.

Indeed, made-with-Singapore content benefits local talent with opportunities to work with international talent and companies, facilitate exchange of skills and we are key for Singapore stories to travel.

An obvious example is “Crazy Rich Asians.” More than a global showcase of Singapore’s skyline and hawker delights, “Crazy Rich Asians” featured 12 Singaporean/Singapore-based cast. Close to 300 Singaporean and permanent resident crew members, including graduates and interns from local film schools, were also involved in the production and development of this Hollywood blockbuster. “Crazy Rich Asians” is now the most successful studio romantic comedy at the U.S. box office in nine years, and has since grossed more than US$230 million worldwide to date.

HBO Asia’s partnership with Singapore-based Infinite Studios on the original drama series “Grisse”, has also opened up opportunities for Singapore directors like Ler Jiyuan to work alongside talent from around the globe.

How does IMDA see itself developing the next generation of content creators?

IMDA has embarked on two strategic partnerships to develop Singapore’s capabilities in creating innovative content for global distribution on digital channels.

Under a two-year partnership, Disney has set up a regional Digital Content Studio, as the creative development hub for Disney’s digital-first, multiplatform content for Southeast Asia. Disney’s executives will mentor Singapore creators in digital content development and collaborate with them to produce the Studio’s first slate of original series.

The Facebook Creator Lab, on the other hand, is a one-year program. The first such initiative by Facebook in Southeast Asia, it will support Singapore content creators to manage their presence, build a business and grow their community on Facebook. Participants will also be trained to harness user engagement and audience analytics tools, and learn how to monetize their content on Facebook. They will also have access to production facilities supported by IMDA PIXEL, and learn how to create content for Facebook Watch.

Today, content is delivered and consumed via a multitude of channels. We expect manpower demand for the media industry to continue growing – so we need to deepen industry capabilities for the future.  To meet this demand, IMDA together with SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore have launched the Skills Framework for Media.

It is a reference of skills and competencies for over 100 identified media jobs and 130 technical competencies, including a guide on career progression. Employers can refer to the Framework to optimize talent recruitment, development and training strategies.

Existing media professionals can benefit by identifying training programs to upgrade their skills.  Individuals can also better understand the career pathways in the sector, and make informed decisions.

The Singapore Digital (SG:D) Scholarship was also launched earlier this year to develop future infocomm media talents.

What is the Singapore infocomm media sector’s current growth rate? And what is the projected growth rate for the future?

In Singapore, the Infocomm and Media sector is a billion-dollar industry that plays a key role in the digital economy. In 2017, more than 20,000 media professionals were employed across the economy, with demand projected to grow by more than 7,000 over the three years till 2020. As a result, media skills are very much in demand by other sectors, with more than half of media professionals employed in non-media sectors, such as healthcare and retail.

To continue this healthy growth, Singapore must invest in collaborations, content and the capabilities of our people and set our sights on becoming the Asian media and tech hub. The possibilities are endless.

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