Singapore MDA streamlines funding schemes (ChannelNewsAsia)

28 September 2011 9 h 14 min 10 comments

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) has streamlined its suite of funding programmes to provide a more systematic approach to support an increasingly sophisticated media industry. It has whittled down the number of assistance schemes from the current 46 to just five.

By Hoe Yeen Nie (28/9/2011)

They cover development assistance, production, marketing, talent support and enterprise development, and will apply to all seven media sectors – broadcast, film, animation, publishing, interactive media, games and music.

The move should sharpen the funding process and address industry feedback that MDA’s myriad array of schemes sometimes proved confusing, with some used only occasionally. It should also address concerns over the application process. The criteria and key deliverables have been made clearer, while applicants will get an answer within eight weeks.

Leon Tong, a producer with Boku Films, called it a “radical” change, noting that the new scheme gives more flexibility to producers to pitch projects. He also welcomes the additional help to freelancers to upgrade their skills through government subsidies.

“It’s about time,” he said. “These people – such as grips, crew, art directors – are very essential from the point of view of a film-making producer. It would be a pity if their interests were not safeguarded.”

MDA said the changes are in response to industry consultation, which began earlier this year.

MDA CEO Aubeck Kam said: “They’re telling us they need more content development, they need to start moving away from mere production, to actually creating their own intellectual property. And that by doing so, the chances of succeeding and growing sustainably are much better.”

New applications for grants will be assessed under the new model from Wednesday, while existing projects funded by old schemes will be serviced under the original agreements.

The new five-scheme structure is a shift away from the current model of co-investment – to one of awarding grants. The aim is to allow companies to fully own their intellectual property, which gives them more freedom to create spin-offs, without the extra step of seeking approval from co-owner, MDA. It also means every dollar earned need not be shared with MDA.

Dr Wong Kok Cheong, CEO of Sparky Animation, said: “The faster you recoup, the chances of success are higher… You need to recoup your money in order to defray some of your costs and invest your money in branding, marketing, promoting your consumer product.”

Dr Wong said with the company in control of the IP, it is also no longer “under pressure to answer to MDA’s sales targets and timelines.”

The schemes will be funded under the Singapore Media Fusion Plan, which charts industry development from 2009 to 2013. Out of the original S$230 million set aside, about S$88 million is still available.

MDA said its objectives remain the same – to develop Singapore talent, encourage local spend and support a sustainable media industry with a continuous pipeline of projects. Under the new framework, there will be a stronger focus on the development of good story and content, such as helping scriptwriters develop their scripts. There will also be greater effort to support enterprise development, to give promising local companies a leg-up into the next league.

The scheme will, for instance, provide funds for companies to set up an IT department or a distribution arm. It is not open for application, but is subject to MDA’s discretion.

MDA is also offering financial incentives to spur companies to ensure a pipeline of projects in Singapore. More help will be provided to help companies market their work and to freelancers in areas such as skills upgrading.

CNA/ac

SOURCE: ChannelNewsAsia  

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