MP Dennis Tan

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what is the Government’s present position on the airing of Chinese dialect programmes on radio and television channels; and (b) whether there are any plans to allow some or more programmes in Chinese dialects on our radio and television channels to promote the preservation of heritage and encourage younger Chinese Singaporeans to be conversant in their dialects.

The Minister for Communications and Information (Mrs Josephine Teo): Mr Speaker, taking into consideration the reach of Free-to-Air (FTA) radio and television to a wide range of audiences including the young, dialect content is limited on these platforms to support the prevailing language policy of Mandarin as one of the four official languages.

 Nonetheless, we recognise the value of dialect programmes to convey information and public policies to the elderly who are conversant only in dialect, such as on MediShield, Pioneer Generation Package and other Government support measures. Mediacorp’s Channel 8 provides a dedicated belt of dialect programmes every Friday late morning. Its radio station Capital 95.8FM also offers news bulletins in various dialects, read a few times daily.

 In exceptional circumstances such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowances were given to convey critical information and public service messages catered for the elderly as part of our national effort to provide accurate and timely information to every Singaporean about COVID-19 and to keep them engaged at home.

 There are currently no plans to allow more dialect programmes on FTA TV and radio. Such content is available on other platforms such as pay TV and over the Internet – and if I may add, in plentiful supply.

Ministry of Communications and Information
10 January 2023


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