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Self-competition stifling; increased production a blessing.

Satellite dishes are illegal in Singapore. However, responding to pressure to ease up restrictions, the state-run SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) has launched three pay-TV channels under the auspices of its subsidiary SCV (Sigapore Cablevision). Pay channels include two braodcasting in English that offer both CNN and HBO and one entertainment channel in Mandarin. First year subscribership of 30, 000 was a realistic achievement for SCV, which is also running three free-to-air channels. The fee for the three pay channels is roughly $32 US per month. Reportedly, SCV was approved by the government to prevent digital-compressed multi-signals from making obsolete the conventional satellite dishes owned in Singapore. By offering the SCV service, the government hopes to maintains some control over entertainment television by offering enough on-air variety to keep consumers satisfied with the systems they already have in place. SCV's target goal over the next four years is 90,000 households, or roughly 15 per cent of the market.

SBCbroadcasts on three channels, with SBC8 garnering a mid 60's share and SBC5 following up in the mid 20's. Local competition is also offered by neighboring Malaysian stations that account for approximately a 10 share.

With the competition for the viewing audience heating up, state-run SBC has eased its normally stringent censorship, allowing such permissive staples as L.A. Law, Quantum Leap and Beverly Hills 90210 on the air, as well as feature films Fatal Attraction and The Accused. SBC chairman Cheong Choong Kong suggested that the launch of the new cable service has forced SBC to keep up with the times in order to attract audiences.

Another challenge facing SBC is commercialization, which is scheduled to take place in 1995. SBC will go completely commercial, but will still be state run with 65 per cent owned by SBC itself and 35 percent held by Temasek Holdings, another government institution.

Singapore viewers watch less TV than their neighbors in Hong Kong and Malaysia, checking in at only 2.1 hours a day. SBC cheif marketing executive Lee Cheok Yew believes that this opens the door to tapping into the market further if the programming can support. it. SBC broadcasts upwards of 500 hours of locally produced programming on Mandarin Channels 8. The local soap operas are leaders in the ratings.

Also from Singapore: Grundy Worldwide has opened the latest of its production houses here. "We believe the opportunities in South East Asia mirror our experience in Europe, and thus the decision was made to open our new production company in Singapore," said chairman Reg Grundy. "The Southeast Asian television market, which comprises over half of the world's population, is fertile territory for drama and light entertainment programming."
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Singapore
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Words:445
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