Broadcasting in Singapore

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Broadcasting in Singapore began on 5 May 1923[citation needed] when Radio Singapura was established as the first local mass market radio service. Subsequently on 15 February 1963, before the withdrawal of the British Armed Forces and after the merger with Malaya, Singapore's first television service began as Televisyen Singapura (TV Singapura) under its owner, Radio Television Singapore (RTS).



Radio Singapura (1923–1963)[edit]

Radio Singapura, the first local radio service, was launched on 5 May 1923[citation needed]. The radio service shut down temporarily due to the World War II, and radio frequencies were tightly controlled. The service resumed and flourished as Singapore gained gradual autonomy from the United Kingdom after the war.

Radio Singapura subsequently became part of Radio Television Singapore (RTS), which in turn became part of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). After SBC was fully privatised it became the Radio Corporation of Singapore (RCS).

Rediffusion Singapore[edit]

With the success of Radio Singapura another key player in the broadcasting industry in the pre-independence Singapore, Rediffusion Singapore, introduced cable broadcasting service to Singapore in 1949. Rediffusion Singapore brought radio to housing areas which lacked decent radio reception with unrivalled sound quality compared to the conventional radio technologies at that time.

Radio Rediffusion, the pioneer cable-radio operator on Clemenceau Avenue, continued to operate in the modern era of radio broadcasting in Singapore, however, it was not entirely able to withstand the forces of technology and time. Rediffusion operated successfully for many years on a subscription-based model, and while the service did make the digital transition (even pioneering the use of encrypted DAB+), it was becoming evident that more changes were needed to keep the operation alive. The changes that were made proved to be not enough and this led to a down-shifting, eventually closing down, and having its name and assets sold off in 2012.[1]

NTUC Heart (1991-2001)[edit]

SAFRA Radio[edit]

SAFRA Radio is managed by the SAFRA National Service Association, a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to the welfare of National Servicemen (colloquially called "NSmen"). SAFRA Radio runs two stations, Power98FM and 883JiaFM, broadcasting in English and Mandarin Chinese respectively. The stations cater to national and professional servicemen, and both radio stations are entertainment-based, featuring modern commercial music and the latest entertainment news.

SPH Radio[edit]

SPH Radio operates radio stations UFM100.3 in Mandarin, as well as Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3 in English.

HOT FM91.3 is an English Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) music station playing new and current top 40 hits targeting listeners under 30. Programs and promotions are injected with loads of fun and quirkiness with a key focus on engagement and the listener’s experience. Hot FM91.3 has become well known for identifying and playing hits before they are hits. Listeners are given control over the playlist through Hot FM91.3’s online feedback platform called “Rate The Hits” which allows listeners to directly influence which songs they want to hear and how often. HOT FM91.3 also introduced ‘HOTFM CONTROL’ in which fans are given access to an entire database of songs that the station plays. Fans will be able to determine the next track that they want to hear in real-time with their votes and the winning song will be played on air immediately. With the introduction of HOTFM CONTROL, a fan’s preference makes up the music selection of the station’s weekly playlist. The station is also focused on engagement with its listeners through on-ground events such as its signature “Must Drink Friday” held on the last Friday of the month with free flow of drinks and interaction with their favourite DJs. Hot FM also engages its listeners on the street with car decal giveaways and live broadcast, in school with Recess Express school visits, online with Facebook and the station website, and on Mobile with Hot FM’s iPhone & Android apps.

The HOT FM91.3 line-up includesThe Shan & Cheryl Show in the mornings from 6am to 10pm. JJ plays non-stop hits from 10am to 4pm followed by BT, Adam and Josh taking you home from 4pm to 7.30pm. Charmaine Yee of the HOT 30 Countdown rounds up the day with the daily fan rated chart show.

Hot FM is now known as ONE FM, and targets a male audience demographic.

In September 2012, Singapore welcomed its newest radio station in over 20 years, KISS 92 FM, raising the number of radio stations from 18 to 19 on the island. Following a tender for bids on two open dial positions, the media company SPH UnionWorks Pte Ltd was successful in procuring the one opening that was ultimately allotted at 92.0 MHz with a proposal to have the station target mainly women listeners, but also included in the anticipated target audience – families.[2] It provides in-depth women and family content, coupled with adult contemporary music. Women aged 30 and above, and families will find the channel informative and entertaining.

Kiss92 brings on experts to share their knowledge on topics such as Relationships and Family Matters, Health and Wellness issues, Financial Planning and Career Advancements. It also covers Fashion and Beauty, Shopping, Entertainment, as well as offer listings of family friendly and community events. Tapping on its collaboration with SPH Magazines,

Maddy, Jason and Arnold in the morning start the day from 6am to 10pm followed by Claressa Monteiro jazzing up the afternoon from 10am to 2pm. Desiree Lai from 2pm to 4pm and John Klass taking fans home helming the 4pm to 8pm show.

UFM100.3 is a highly charged Mandarin infotainment station targeting at working professionals aged between 35 – 49 years that is specially catered to their lifestyle. Its creative, lively and engaging delivery style is able to consistently hook listeners on for a far longer period of listening. Program content is designed to cater specifically for the busy individuals with timely updates and discussion on current affairs, health and wellness, financial planning, property investment, communication, lifestyle, music and entertainment.

The station’s drive-time programmes are anchored by veteran DJs Wenhong, Limei and Xiaozhu in the morning, and DJ Anna in the evening. Lunch time programme is helmed by Yuling from 10am to 2pm followed by Liangquan from 2pm to 5pm.

The station actively engages its listeners through various interactive events such as dinner gatherings and enrichment workshops. To further strengthen loyalty, DJs also reaches out to the public through its outdoor activations, conducting games and giveaway prizes while introducing the station to new potential listeners. UFM100.3 also supports various community, non-profit and charity organizations with its annual U-Shine program that raises public awareness of lesser known causes and charities.


Company names[edit]

Only 2 television broadcasting companies have ever been created in Singapore since 1 January 2005 has SPH Mediaworks and present MediaCorp TV. The former eventually merged with the latter on 31 December 2004 so only 1 television broadcasting company exists in Singapore. Televisyen Singapura (TV Singapura), Televisyen Malaysia (Singapura) (TV Malaysia (Singapura)), Radio Television Singapore (RTS), Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS), were the predecessors of the Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp Group), with each name change signifying a period of privatisation and liberalisation.

MediaCorp is the direct successor of the SIM Group of Companies based parent by Singapore International Media (SIM) – the parent company of Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) and Radio Corporation of Singapore (RCS) which on 12 February 2001 were renamed MediaCorp TV (network channel MediaCorp TV and MediaCorp TV12) and MediaCorp Radio respectively owner by MediaCorp their second satellite television broadcasting and radio broadcasting transmit receive earth station on Caldecott Broadcast Centre based in Singapore International Foundation regional broadcast venture Singapore International Television (SITV) and Radio Singapore International (RSI).

Several free-to-air terrestrial television channels are managed by companies that are directly affiliated with Televisyen Singapura (TV Singapura), Televisyen Malaysia (Singapura) (TV Malaysia (Singapura)), Radio Television Singapore (RTS), Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) and MediaCorp TV.

Radio Television Singapore (1963–1980)[edit]

The Television service began with a 1.5-hour monochrome service launched on Television Singapura under close regulation by a department within the government's Ministry of Culture on 15 February 1963. Television Singapura (English)'s regular television broadcast formally took place on 2 April 1963 with four hours of Singapore English programmes daily.

Television Singapura (Mandarin) the second television channel was introduced on 23 November 1963 to broadcast programmes in Tamil and predominantly in Singapore Mandarin.

Both Channel 5 and Channel 8 are still in transmission today.

Colour transmission[edit]

The first colour television signal was transmitted on 1 May 1974 the first colour programmes being The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Black Beauty (made by LWT for the ITV Network). Subsequently, the first live colour telecast of the company the 1974 FIFA World Cup Final between West Germany and Netherlands via satellite transmission took place on 7 July 1974.

Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (1980–1994)[edit]

With the passing of an Act of Parliament and after much public effort, Radio Television Singapore (RTS) was partially privatised and given autonomy and flexibility in its lineup of programmes and handling issues such as personnel, finance and production. Radio Television Singapore (RTS) became Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) on 1 February 1980.

Immediately after the partial privatisation, the company managed breakthroughs that were hitherto impossible due to the direct influence of the Ministry of Culture. After two years, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) produced its first local drama for SBC-8. SBC also produced various awarding-winning documentaries and current affairs talkshows; were however, criticised for her marginalised broadcast of news and current affairs, carrying news that are supporting the common misconceptions that are much silenced.

On 31 January 1984, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation launched Singapore's third free-to-air terrestrial television channel, SBC-12 after the government announced its life to nurture a gracious and elegant society. SBC-12 carried mostly art and cultural programmes marking the inception of niche programming.

SBC continued to innovate, and eventually introduced the Star Search contest in 1988, which launched the career of some of today's most recognised local artistes. The trend of innovating accelerated when the company was totally privatised in the early 1990s.

Television Corporation of Singapore (1994–2001)[edit]

SBC was fully privatised on 1 October 1994 and split into 3 individual companies under the SIM Group of Companies based parent by Singapore International Media (SIM) has : Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) took over the television broadcasting arm of Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Radio Corporation of Singapore (RCS) took over the radio broadcasting arm of Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) while TV12 (TV12 Singapore) under name STV12 (Singapore Television Twelve) operated Channel 12 manager by Prime 12 (Perdana 12) and Premiere 12 their second satellite television broadcasting and radio broadcasting transmit receive earth station on Caldecott Broadcast Centre based in Singapore International Foundation regional broadcast venture Singapore International Television (SITV) and Radio Singapore International (RSI).

On 1 September 1995, TCS-8 began 24-hour transmission, later TCS-5 followed suit on 29 September 1995 and 2 new free-to-air terrestrial television channels were created from Singapore Television Twelve (STV12). The 2 channels were Prime 12 and Premiere 12. TCS-8 dropped its Tamil language programmes and moved to the new Prime 12. For the first time in the history of Singaporean broadcasting, there were 4 free-to-air terrestrial television channels broadcasting programmes in all 4 official languages.

In 1999, the Singapore International Media (SIM) restructuring exercise Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) became one of its Strategic Business Units (SBU).

In started launched 1 March 1999, Channel NewsAsia was launched, a member of Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) latest offering of a free-to-air terrestrial television channel in Singapore while the channel is available overseas via a post-paid service on Singapore Cable Television (SICTV).

On 30 January 2000, STV12 underwent an entire makeover, and Suria, the new Malay language channel with programming similar to TCS-5 channel replaced Prime 12 as a channel for the entertainment needs of the Malay community, while Premiere 12 became Central a channel separated into 3 sections according to the time slot given at different part of a day as

  • Kids Central (formerly known as Premiere 12) – The children's channel, with enriching educational & animation programming
  • Vasantham Central (formerly known as Prime 12) – The new Tamil language channel with programming similar to TCS-8
  • Arts Central (formerly known as Premiere 12) – A channel that showcases art, cultural and largely foreign award-winning productions, and incorporated a significant amount of niche programming, making the channel rather distinctive compared to the others.

The STV12 channels did not commence 24-hour transmissions, despite rumours, while Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) such : TCS-5 and TCS-8 continued their 24-hour transmission with significant reform to their programming for late nights. SportCity, a channel dedicated to sport programmes, was introduced by Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) and subsequently renamed CityTV in May 2001 and introducing programmes catering to a larger range of audience, before being shut down on 11 January 2002 due to economic recession and a lack of viewership.

MediaCorp TV (2001–present)[edit]

Singapore International Media (SIM) underwent a corporate restructure exercise on 12 February 2001. The Group was reorganised to become the Media Corporation of Singapore (MediaCorp Singapore). Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) was renamed to MediaCorp TV, Radio Corporation of Singapore (RCS) was renamed to MediaCorp Radio and STV12 (Singapore Television Twelve), operated by TCS-12 and managed by Prime 12 and Premiere 12, was renamed MediaCorp TV12, becoming two individual Strategic Business Units (SBU) under the new corporation.

TV Mobile service On Valentine’s Day February 14, 2001, the TV Mobile service was launched in Singapore. This service provided video programming to screens located chiefly in public buses (though it also was available in a few other locations – the ferries to neighboring Bantam and Bintan islands for example, as well as some taxis that were equipped to receive the signals).[3] The service was discontinued at the end of 2009, with the company saying that the discontinuation came after “a careful evaluation of the viability of the service, as resources required to operate and maintain TV Mobile are substantial”.[4]

SPH MediaWorks (2001–2004)[edit]

With the liberalisation process near completion, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) began preparing to introduce an alternative broadcaster to challenge the well-established MediaCorp. On 6 May 2001, SPH announced the creation of SPH MediaWorks, which would transmit 2 new free-to-air terrestrial television channels has : Channel U and TVWorks broadcasting in Singapore Mandarin and Singapore English respectively. The process of establishing the 2 new channels entailed one of the largest staff crossovers in Singapore. A significant number of MediaCorp TV employees moved to SPH MediaWorks including renowned producers celebrated artistes and notably the media veteran Man Shu Sum one of the pioneers in the local broadcasting industry.

With the launch of Channel U and TVWorks on 6 May 2001, SPH MediaWorks immediately began a long and excruciating ratings war. Survey results by research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres showed MediaCorp launched has : Channel 5, Channel 8, Suria, Central, Channel NewsAsia and CityTV to be constantly in the lead. However, SPH MediaWorks rebutted this with figures by another research firm AC Nielson, which showed that Channel U was in the lead.

Due to the different research figures used by the two companies, ratings were often biased towards the company using them. In 2003 after Singapore Broadcasting Authority becomes the MDA both companies stopped presenting the ratings of the rival either in their web sites or on air; MDA introduced its own ratings as well showing MediaCorp channels in the lead.

On 3 March 2002, TVWorks was renamed Channel i in an attempt to revamp the Singapore English television channel. It had suffered considerably in the ratings war and became the channel with the lowest viewership. SPH MediaWorks was awarded the "Broadcaster of the Year" in the 2001 Asian Television Awards an award clinched by MediaCorp previously while Channel U received the "Channel of the Year" an award previously received by MediaCorp TV's Channel 5.

On 17 September 2004, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and MediaCorp announced the possibility of merging the broadcasting arms of the respective companies. It was eventually agreed that a new holding company, MediaCorp Television Broadcasting Arm would be created to operate the MediaCorp and SPH MediaWorks channels affected by the merger, namely MediaCorp has : Channel 5, Channel 8, Channel U, TVMobile, Suria, Central, Channel NewsAsia and Sinagapore Teletext. Singapore Press Holdings had previously said that SPH MediaWorks was unprofitable and the merger agreement excluded Channel i was closing ceremony dissloved disestablishment off the air and closedown sign-off the end shut down stop late night final ceased transmission on New Year's Day in 2005 at 01:30 am.

It was also agreed that MediaCorp would retain 80% stake in the new holding company, while Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) would cash in for a 20% stake. The agreement also included the end of the free newspaper battle; Suria, Central and Channel NewsAsia (CNA) would continue to be operated solely by the MediaCorp, with Channel 5, Channel 8 and Channel U a member of MediaCorp TV, Suria and Central a member of MediaCorp TV12 and Channel NewsAsia a member of MediaCorp News.

In New Year's Eve in 2004, it was announced that the merger was completed and the new company would begin operations on New Year's Day in 2005. The merger was one of the largest in the local market to date. SPH MediaWorks was closing ceremony dissloved disestablishment off the air and closedown sign-off the end shut down stop late night final ceased transmission on New Year's Day in 2005 at 01:30 am local time early dawn morning time.

The return of market monopoly[edit]

After the merger of MediaCorp TV and SPH MediaWorks from mass market free-to-air terrestrial television channel and free daily national newspaper operations on New Year's Eve in 2005, MediaCorp the first local broadcaster once again became the monopoly in the free-to-air terrestrial channels broadcasting market after four years.

Private ownership of satellite dishes is illegal although international television channels (such as BBC World News and CNN International News) are available on StarHub TV based in cable television and SingTel's mio TV based in IPTV services.


The issue of language used in broadcasting has caused many controversies in the short but significant history of local broadcasting. Tight censorship and control over the language used have resulted in programmes which have been severely edited and dubbed in the name of protecting national interests.

On 1 January 2002, in accordance with the state policy of promoting Mandarin on local television channels have been banned from showing programmes in Cantonese and Hokkien dialects for 14 years. These programs, such as popular television serials from Hong Kong and Taiwan, which use both Hong Kong Cantonese and Hokkien respectively, have to be dubbed into Mandarin. Local television series or programmes cannot use any form of dialect and are subjected to tight censorship with the exception of Eat Already? and Happy Can Already!, a locally produced dialect drama and variety show respectively. Similarly, national newspapers were not allowed to carry listings for Malaysia's TV3, a member of Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad (STMB), also broadcast a significant amount of Hong Kong Cantonese programmes. Ironically, Malaysia state-run Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) currently operates five free channels in Malaysia: TV1 and TV2 did broadcast programmes in Cantonese for a period of time. Although these were not meant for viewers in Singapore, Singaporeans could still receive the television signals. TV2 is no longer free-to-air in Singapore due to its broadcasting of foreign copyrighted programmes, that includes in Chinese dialects. Hong Kong's TVB Jade is broadcasting in Hong Kong Cantonese and is now available only on StarHub TV. TV1 is officially the only free-to-air channel from Malaysia in Singapore.

See also[edit]

Defunct companies[edit]

Existing companies[edit]


  1. ^ Freeman, B.C., & Ramakrishnan, Y. (2016). Singapore radio: Then & now. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  2. ^ Freeman, B.C., & Ramakrishnan, Y. (2012). Red dot on the dial: Singapore radio then & now. In J. Hendricks (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of global radio, pp. 299-319. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  3. ^ Freeman, B.C., & Ramakrishnan, Y. (2016). Singapore radio: Then & now. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  4. ^ MediaCorp to discontinue. (2009, December 15). MediaCorp to discontinue TV Mobile from next year. Channel News Asia. Retrieved from:

External links[edit]