When it comes to factual, Singapore Television 12 is determined to show its viewers the world. On STV12′s national Central channel, one of the main doc strands – ‘World Journeys’ – is dedicated to cultural programming and travelogs. The weekly slots air acquired, coproduced or commissioned programs every Friday from 10p.m. to 11p.m. and Sundays from 9p.m. to 10p.m.
Coproduction is firmly entrenched in STV12′s future plans. According to Koh Lee Lian, senior assistant VP of Central programming, ‘STV is always looking for coproducers for funding and expertise in productions.’ The national broadcaster recently embarked on a copro for ‘World Journeys’ with Singapore’s Asian Civilizations Museum and Pentimento Productions. The result was The Living Treasures of Cambodia, a 2 x 45-minute series that pays tribute to five master craftsmen and artists in Cambodia who have dedicated their lives to teaching vanishing ancient arts to a new generation of Cambodian dancers, musicians, singers and mask-makers. STV12 contributed about US$45,000 to the $120,000 production – one which marks the first copro in Singapore between a museum and a TV station.
Catherine Lim, assistant VP of local commissioning at STV12, comments: ‘The Living Treasures of Cambodia fit in well with the ‘World Journeys’ slot. The programs on ‘World Journeys’ allow our viewers to travel the globe, explore, and understand a myriad of cultures… [Our collaboration with the ACM] opens the door to more collaborations with cultural and art institutions.’
Living Treasures came on the heels of another STV12 copro, this time with the National Geographic Channel and Singapore-based prodco The Moving Visuals Company. Hungry Ghosts of the Chinese World is a 48-minute doc that explores the Month of the Hungry Ghosts
(a South East Asian festival), traditional Chinese concepts of worship and how these spiritual beliefs have evolved and manifest themselves today. STV12 contributed US$20,000 to $30,000. Marcia Goh, VP of programming at National Geographic Channel Asia says, ‘Hungry Ghosts proves that local people and cultural stories in Asia can have tremendous international appeal.’
In addition to ‘World Journeys’, Central has ‘Profiles’ (a factual slot focused on famous personalities in the world of arts and culture) and two other partial doc slots: ‘Highnotes’ which shows docs related to music; and ‘Footnotes’, on the world of dance.
Recent copros aside, most factual programs on STV12 are acquired. Says Lian, ‘we acquire, coproduce and commission, but acquisitions make up the bulk of our programming.’ Hourly fees range from US$800 to $1,000. STV purchases both local and international programs – preferably series at 60-minutes per episode. The network is also interested in 60-minute holiday and themed specials. According to Lian, ‘One-offs are usually themed on a monthly basis, as long as the program fits the branding of the particular block and slot.’ One ‘Highnotes’ theme this year was music legends, during which the channel aired John Lennon: Gimme Some Truth, acquired from Picture Music International (London), and Jimi Hendrix: The Man They Made God (BBC).
STV12 is always in pursuit of quality wildlife programs for ‘Earthvisions’, its all-wildlife slot (six hours per week). It recently aired Untamed Australia (Télé Images), a 12 x 60-minute series, and Return of the Killer Bugs, a 60-minute one-off (BBC) on the impact of global warming on various species. Says Lian, ‘STV is currently in pursuit of anything predatory for ‘Earthvisions.”