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Singapore, China intensify partnership in TV, documentaries

MUMBAI: Television audiences in China and Singapore can look forward to more programmes co-produced by the two countries, including telemovies, documentaries and a televised concert featuring film and TV theme songs.

These were among the outcomes of a business mission organised by the Media Development Authority (MDA) to Beijing, China, aimed at helping Singapore’s media companies gain further inroads into China. Fourteen Singapore companies – with a mix of content producers, channel operators, platform owners and media fund managers – took part in the four-day trip.

China and Singapore had begun exchanges in TV more than 20 years ago. Singapore dramas shown in China in the 80s and 90s and their theme songs are fondly remembered by Chinese till today. And the popularity of Little Nyonya in China when it was shown earlier this year has helped to re-kindle Chinese interest in Singapore TV productions.

Said MDA Chairman Dr Tan Chin Nam, “With a rising global demand for entertainment and media, there is immense potential for China and Singapore to join forces to harness the opportunities in the fast expanding international media space, especially in presenting content from New Asia to the world.

We hope to build on this traction and ignite a new wave of China-Singapore media collaboration that is broader and deeper in scope. Other than paving the way for Singapore media companies to enter into China, we also hope to position Singapore as a key partner for Chinese media enterprises going international.”

Altogether, nine agreements were sealed during the business mission, paving the way for industry collaborations, ranging from financing, pre-production, production to distribution and marketing.

The first was a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between MDA and China International TV Corporation (CITVC) and China Radio Film TV Program Exchange Centre (CPEC) to exchange programmes, co-produce content and participate in annual TV trade markets hosted by the other party, namely the China Radio, Film & TV International Expo hosted by CITVC in Beijing, and the Asia Media Festival hosted by MDA in Singapore. Both CITVC and CPEC are wholly-owned subsidiaries of China Central Television (CCTV).

Next was a tripartite MoU between MDA, Central Newsreel Documentary Film Studio (CNDF) and China Information Business Network (CIBN) to co-produce a slate of five TV documentary series for global distribution. CNDF, part of the CCTV group of companies, specialises in producing TV and movie documentaries, backed by a treasure trove of archival footage on China dating back to 1938. CIBN is a professional new media network operating in the digital broadcast, mobile TV and internet space.

Combining the strengths of each party, the documentary slate resulting from the partnership is expected to feature rich moving visuals of past and contemporary China packaged in a way that will appeal to the international market.

Asia Media and Technology Capital Management, part of the Singapore delegation, signed a MoU with CIBN to collaborate on media industry venture investments in China. AMTC manages the $500 million Asia Media & Technology Capital Fund, which invests into media and technology companies in Asia, with a particular emphasis on China.

During the trip, MDA enhanced its collaboration with China Education TV (CETV), with whom it first established a partnership in 2008 to co-produce a 20-part half-hour documentary series titled Our Children. Reflecting contemporary children’s lifestyles in Singapore and China, the series is scheduled to simulcast end of this year on MediaCorp Channel 8 and CETV, a channel under China’s Ministry of Education.

Under the new MoU, MDA and CETV agreed to expand the scope of filming to cover subjects of different age groups, and extend the property across different programme formats and platforms. Both parties hope to develop Our Children into a landmark project that heralds more collaboration in the media-in-learning space.

MDA also signed a letter of intent with the China Film Foundation (CFF) to co-produce a slate of 10 telemovies over the next three years. The telemovies will potentially be shown on CCTV’s movie channel, CCTV-6. This marked the first time that Singapore and China are collaborating on telemovies. Led by legendary Chinese filmmaker Li Qian Kuan, CFF is a non-profit organisation under the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) that promotes film exchanges between China and foreign countries. MDA and CFF will match-make Singapore and Chinese filmmakers to undertake the production of the telemovies.

In addition, the Singapore delegation had fruitful meetings with the State Council of Information Third Bureau and its affiliated company China International Communication Centre, during which preliminary discussions to collaborate in both the traditional and new media space were broached.

Upcoming television, music and film events: On the immediate horizon, audiences in China and Singapore can look forward to a series of co-produced TV, music and film events taking place from September to November this year.

MDA CEO Dr. Christopher Chia signed a letter of intent with China Broadcasting Performance Arts Group (CBPAG) General Manager Mr Wang Shu Wei, to co-host the China-Singapore Film and TV Golden Melodies Concert. The concert, which is tentatively slated to take place in Beijing on 19 September 2010, will feature singers and artistes from both countries performing popular drama theme songs. The TV recording of the concert will be broadcast in China and Singapore at a later date.

The concert will be executive produced by Singapore broadcaster MediaCorp, together with China Radio Film and TV Culture Performance, a company under CBPAG. The two parties signed a letter of intent on their collaboration at the press briefing.

MDA and CBPAG also agreed to incorporate a China-Singapore youth pianist showcase to the programme line-up for the Second Beijing International Piano Festival opening on 18 November, where young promising pianists from both counties will perform alongside music maestros from around the world.

CBPAG is a state-run professional performing arts group under Sarft. These two events are supported by Sarft and Singapore’s Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts.

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