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Forging an 'Asian media fusion: Singapore as a 21st century media hub

Lee, T. (2016) Forging an 'Asian media fusion: Singapore as a 21st century media hub. Media International Australia, 158 (1). pp. 80-89.

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The city-state of Singapore commemorated its 50th year of independence in 2015. In that 50-year period, Singapore defied the odds by forging itself into an important media and communication hub, one that services the Asian region by linking it to other global media centres. This article examines Singapore’s efforts to develop its media sector over the years from a historical (and) policy perspective. The article begins by explaining how early policy discourses were bifurcated along internal versus external lines, where the development of a national media system to mould a fledgling society was the internal mission, while externally, the vision was to promote Singapore to the rest of the world as a reliable port (where media and cultural goods can be safely and reliable transported to/through) and teleport (where messages and satellite signals can be exchanged via reliable telecommunications infrastructure and uplink–downlink facilities). It was not until the early 2000s, with the launch of Media 21 and the Creative Industries Development Strategy (both in 2002), that the external mission began to dominate. In 2009, the Singapore Media Fusion Plan (SMFP) declared that Singapore would become a ‘Trusted Global Capital for New Asia Media’. While articulating that a strong media sector engenders a better understanding of Singapore culture, the latest policy does little to promote local culture. Instead, the cultural footprint of Singapore has expanded to include not just Asia, but ‘new Asia’, defined very problematically in the report as ‘newly confident Asian countries’ (p. 26). This article unpacks the ‘Asian media fusion’ discourse and contends that the positioning of Singapore as a 21st century media hub is arguably the most overtly economic media and cultural policy that Singapore has yet produced. It is clear that the media sector is a little more than a cluster of economic activity, where the goal of the government and the agencies involved is to boost Singapore’s status as the best business city. The media hub policy rationales have thus been, for better or worse, coherent with the Singapore government’s broader economic ideologies over the past 50 years and look set to continue into the foreseeable future.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Copyright: © 2016 by Media International Australia Editorial Board
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