Excellencies,
Members of the Diplomatic community,
Members of the Industry,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1 A very good morning.  I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you, and in particular, to those who have come from overseas, to participate in the Asia TV Forum & Market, and the Singapore Media Festival. 

2 The Media Festival is a key regional event in the industry calendar.  It is an opportunity for enterprises and creative talent from around the world to come together, meet, network, discuss the latest trends, and perhaps most importantly, forge partnerships. 

3 This year, we are expecting to welcome more than 50,000 participants to the Festival as a whole, in all its components.  This is more than double the number of participants we had last year.  It is a quantum shift and we have also had new constituent events as part of the Festival, such as ComicCon and VidCon. 

4 This is also a special year for the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.  Over the past 2 decades, ATF has grown from strength to strength. It is recognised as an important industry event where buyers and sellers from the entertainment industry converge and conduct transactions.  

Convergence brings exciting new possibilities for Asia

5 From the broader industry perspective, the rapid development of technology and emergence of digital platforms have profoundly disrupted traditional value chains.  All of us who are involved in the industry in one way or another will be keenly aware of this disruptive impact.

6 New channels for content have emerged.  Customers have greater control over what they watch, when they watch it and how they watch it.  This has fuelled a race to create a variety of content – from short-form, micro-content to premium dramas and feature films – that can be delivered in new and exciting ways to the audience: targeted, hyper-personalised, on-demand, and optimised for the different platforms.

7 As home to four of the five markets with the fastest growth in OTT (Over-the-Top) spend, and the region with the fastest growing base of internet and mobile phone users, this convergence of tech and media raises exciting new possibilities for all of us in Asia. 

8 Indeed, global content creators are poised to ride the Asian wave.  Netflix and Amazon have aggressively expanded here in Singapore; Apple followed suit just last month.  Next year, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock will join them. 

9 Chinese players are also expanding their footprint in the region: Tencent has launched its video streaming service in Thailand, while iQiyi launched its first app outside China through a partnership with Malaysia’s Astro.  

10 Our regional players, too, are producing more original, made-with-Asia content: Just in this year, HOOQ has announced 19 new projects.  Against this backdrop of all these developments –  participation from global players and the growth of regional players,  the theme for this year’s Singapore Media Festival – “Asia is Now” - could not be more appropriate.

Singapore is well placed to be the gateway to Asia

11 Singapore is well placed to play a catalytic role in the growth of Asia’s media ecosystem, particularly in Southeast Asia.  Beyond our traditional role as a business, financial and technology hub, Singapore’s media ecosystem is vibrant and growing.  We are a regional base for leading media players, such as Netflix, HBO, Disney and Discovery, and are home to fast-growing regional players like mm2 and Grab.  

12 And, we are committed to seeking out fresh ideas to further strengthen this ecosystem.

13 To that end, I am pleased to share with all of you, that Singapore has established a Media International Advisory Council (IAC), which brings together international industry leaders, like Dr Gong Yu, from diverse backgrounds to discuss key trends, identify opportunities, provide guidance on how the region can foster a dynamic media ecosystem to ride the Asia story, and the role that Singapore can play within that trajectory. 

14 The IAC inaugural meeting took place a couple of days back. The IAC members were unanimous that there was significant opportunities in this region – both as a market as well as a source of talent.  The meeting also discussed how Singapore could play a role that is more active and catalytic, as a media hub to support the regional ecosystem, and to develop creative as well as tech talent in the industry.  The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will be studying and following up on the key ideas that emerged from the deliberations of the Advisory Council.     

15 In fact, our efforts in this regard are already underway in some respects. Let me give you some examples. We are pivoting away from “Made by Singapore” to “Made with Singapore” in three important areas: Content, Financing and Talent. 

16 First, content.  In recent years, we have seen the rise of “Made with Singapore” films – films created by Singapore filmmakers with international partners.  One recent example is Ramen Teh, a collaboration between Singapore’s Zhao Wei Films and Japan’s Wild Orange Artists.  We also saw an original drama series Food Lore, which was a collaboration between Singapore-based Bert Pictures and prominent directors across Asia.  And, of course, Crazy Rich Asians, was produced by Singapore-based Infinite Frameworks in partnership with Warner Bros.   

17 We hope to encourage more of such regional and international collaborations. Since last year, IMDA has partnered Facebook, Disney, Grab and Vice Media to take the works of Singapore’s digital content creators to a regional audience. In fact, Facebook has recently launched a second call-for-proposals to support more “Made with Singapore” content, and we look forward to many more of such collaborative initiatives. 

18 With the unprecedented growth in demand for digital content globally and in the region, I am also pleased to announce that IMDA will be partnering five established media and technology companies – CJ  E&M Hong Kong, Facebook, HOOQ, Tencent-VS Media and Viacom – so that local media companies and talent will, through these partnerships, have the opportunity to create content for these digital content services and platforms.  Close to 100 media companies and many Singapore talent will benefit from these partnerships, and we look forward to many more joining us in this venture. 

19 Secondly, on financing.  Securing the necessary funds is fundamental to the successful production – and completion – of any media project. 

20 Last year, the Public Service Media Digital Partnership Fund was launched to support collaborations between local media companies and regional or international players.  We will support four such collaborations from the first call-for proposals, and a second call will be launched early next year.

21 A call-for-proposals for the Southeast Asia Co-production Grant was also launched earlier this year.  The Grant aims to encourage collaborations between Singaporean creative producers and Southeast Asian filmmaking talent. IMDA received 26 applications of high quality from around the region.  I am pleased to share that the Grant has been awarded to eight projects, of which three are by first-time filmmakers. 

22 So clearly, there is much talent and potential in our region.  And Singapore aims to do more to involve the private sector as we develop a deeper media financing ecosystem to support regional productions and talent.  I am therefore happy to announce today the launch of a Financing Partnership Programme for media funds who are keen to establish in Singapore, and invest out of, Singapore.  This Programme is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, and IMDA is setting aside, for a start, S$20 million for this effort. We will evaluate the response and forms of partnerships, and then decide what we can do further with it.

Continuing our efforts to nurture the local media industry

23 Thirdly, on talent.  Today, Singapore already has a diverse media talent pool.  One of our filmmakers, Anthony Chen, picked up three awards at this year’s Pingyao International Film Festival for his film, Wet Season.  Wet Season was also nominated for six Golden Horse Awards and Yeo Yann Yann, the film’s lead actress, won the Best Actress award. 

24 Another Singapore film, A Land Imagined, was nominated for four Golden Horse Awards.  The film’s director Yeo Siew Hua, and composer Teo Wei Yong, took home Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Film Score.  I want to congratulate Anthony, Yann Yann, Siew Hua and Wei Yong for doing Singapore proud. Well done! 

25 Our young talent, too, are doing us proud.  This year, films by three of our young filmmakers – Piece of Meat by Jerrold Chong and Huang Junxiang, and Adam by Shoki Lin – were selected for the Cannes Film Festival.  Chiang Wei Liang, a Singapore Digital (SG:D) scholar, is also the first Singaporean to join the Cannes Cinéfondation Residency this year, where he will develop his debut feature film, Mongrel.  I want to, again, congratulate and say well done to Jerrold, Junxiang, Shoki and Wei Liang – keep up the good work!

26 Our media talent will continue to have the opportunity to develop their skillsets through a range of initiatives.  For example, IMDA will collaborate with CJ E&M Hong Kong on a series of masterclasses and training workshops.  There is also the Story Lab Apprenticeship programme, which I announced about four months ago.  It has since received overwhelming interest with about 1,000 applications for 36 apprenticeships - almost 30 applications for every place that is available. That is a good sign because it means there is interest, and on the other side, that the industry is also prepared to step up. In addition to Beach House Pictures, GHY Culture and Media, Mediacorp and mm2, HBOAsia is now on board, and will offer internships in scriptwriting and production.  IMDA welcomes more like-minded partners to join us in nurturing more of such talent for today’s and tomorrow’s media industry.

27 To build on these efforts, I am pleased to also share that HOOQ is this year’s platform partner for the Script-to-Screen programme.  Budding scriptwriters have pitched their story ideas to be produced as a pilot episode, and will gain valuable experience in the production process.  We can look out for these pilots next year.  

Conclusion

28 We have embarked on a series of initiatives on developing the market, developing our talent, and supporting the evolution of the financial aspects of the industry. The convergence in tech and media is undeniable and unrelenting – but it is opening up new markets, enabling disruptive models, and fuelling demand for new content through digital channels.  In these exciting times, I want to encourage everyone to think Asia, and think Singapore. 

29 Asia, as this theme suggests, is Now: content producers and digital platforms are pivoting more decisively towards the East; many of them building on earlier successful ventures with Asian talent and companies.  Asia, particularly South East Asia, has much to offer the rest of the world beyond just being a market.  I invite the world and industry players to discover the exciting voices of Asian storytellers and also our diverse talent – both off-screen and on-screen.  

30 This exciting Asia story can be seen unfolding here in Singapore - where the Tech world meets the Media world; where the East meets the West; and where Ideas become Reality.  We are committed to play our part in this Asia story by cultivating a dynamic media ecosystem here in Singapore, and for the region.

31 From “made by Singapore” to “made with Singapore”, we believe Singapore can serve as a gateway between the world and the region – facilitating exchanges, creating partnerships, and enabling regional talent to fulfil their aspirations. 

32 ATF and ScreenSingapore are important platforms for such exchanges, conversations, and the launch of exciting new careers and ventures.

33 invite all of you to fully benefit from the opportunities afforded by this event, and wish all of you a fruitful and enjoyable time over the next three days. 

34 Thank you very much.