Singapore’s media sector can look forward to a slew of initiatives introduced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in helping them tide over the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Announcing this on 15 March, IMDA said these latest initiatives will allow media companies to benefit from more production project opportunities and reduced operating costs, as well as assist media professionals and freelancers in building up their resilience through training and upskilling.

These will be in line with the measures announced in this year’s Unity (Budget 2020)Resilience, and Solidarity Budgets, as part of efforts to protect jobs and livelihoods in Singapore.

The following are what media companies, and media professionals and freelancers can look forward to:

Support for media companies: Fee waivers, partnerships

In helping media companies reduce their operating costs, the IMDA will waive the Film Exhibition and Distribution Licence Fees for them, starting 17 April 2020. This waiver will apply to both the renewal of existing licences, and to new licence applications.

At the same time, the IMDA will also waive the classification fees for films (public exhibition and video distribution), video games and label fees, until further notice.

Apart from the above, it has also worked with international content partners, including WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks APAC and ViacomCBS Networks Asia, to bring forward the implementation of the Capabilities Partnership Programme, which pairs media MNCs with local media companies to develop ‘Made in Singapore’ content.

This is expected to benefit 80 to 100 local media companies over the next 12 months.

Support for media professionals and freelancers: Project funding, training grants

With the launch of a new S$8mn Public Service Content Fund, Mediacorp, Viddsee and Singapore Press Holdings will be commissioning short-form content for their digital platforms, through a ‘Call for Proposal’.

What this means is that, during the Circuit Breaker, media companies and talent can start planning, conceptualising and submitting their proposals to be ready for production work once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Additionally, the IMDA will take steps to continue supporting ground-up initiatives by media associations, in support of those in need.

As part of these efforts, for instance, the IMDA will be matching the Singapore Association for Motion Picture Professionals’ COVID-19 Relief Fund’s contribution of S$20,000 to support media practitioners who have been affected by the cancellation and postponement of projects. These affected practitioners will be offered grants of between S$300 to S$500.

Last, it will support media professionals who decide to bring forward their training plans during this slowdown; self-employed persons (SEPs) will be provided a training grant of up to 90% of course fees, capped at S$3,000 per course under the Talent Assistance Programme. At the same time, SEPs and freelancers can also benefit from training allowance for eligible courses.

Commenting on the above efforts, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said the government will continue to support media companies and professionals through this period, “so that they can continue to create content that inspires, uplifts and binds us as one united people.”

He added: “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.”

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Photo / 123RF