Television viewing – everyone’s favourite perennial pastime – has changed alongside technological advances and the greater accessibility to numerous channels and content providers. With the transition from an analogue to a digital system, choices have expanded from free-to-air terrestrial stations to pay-per-view television channels and programs. There is now Internet television with popular online streaming services such as Netflix, which offers a wide range of programming options. When they have cable, families and neighbours no longer congregate in a community centre or crowd around a television set at home to watch TV.
One may now watch a television program whenever and wherever they choose, thanks to the advent of on-demand entertainment. Square-eyed workers or pedestrians immersed in their favourite shows on their cell phones is quite common. This is in stark contrast to the early 1960s, when Singapore’s first television station, Television Singapura, debuted. Daily broadcast time was only an hour.
The first television station in Singapore, Television Singapura, began transmissions on February 15th, 1963. Singapore’s first television station, SBC (now Mediacorp) was established in the mid-1950s. It was determined that the service should be run by a commercial firm with existing interests in the film and radio sectors, such as Cathay Organisation (present owner), Shaw Brothers, and Singapore Rediffusion. The government, however, believed that it was in the public’s best interests for a public corporation to run a medium of mass reach.
Prior to that, in May 1960, former Minister for Culture S. Rajaratnam announced that a television station would be established in Singapore. The paper on which his cabinet was made, on the other hand, called for two strategies with varying timeframes and expenditures in putting up a television station. The cabinet decided to take the longer approach of three years, which would offer greater television service.
On February 15, 1963, Singapore televised its first television program at 6 p.m., which lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. Rajaratnam was the first person to appear on Singapore television after the image of the State Flag and playing of the National Anthem. He claimed that “tonight may well be the start of a social and cultural upheaval in our lives.”
At the launch event at the Victoria Memorial Hall, 300 privileged guests came, while members of the general public crowded into two hundred neighbourhood centres and homes with television sets (which numbered nearly 2,400 homes then). Thousands had gathered at Princess Elizabeth Walk and outside Victoria Memorial Hall, anticipating the announcement.
The 15-minute Television Singapura documentary TV Looks at Singapore was the first program broadcast when Rajaratnam made his announcement. The station broadcast two cartoons, a news story, a comedy show, and a local variety program right after. Only 1 in 60 households had a television set when Television Singapura debuted in 1963.
Yang di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak formally opened the television service of Singapore on April 2, 1963. One hour of programming was expanded to four hours each night. There were originally three channels: Channel 5, 8, and 10. English and Malay programming aired on Channel 5, while Chinese and Tamil content was broadcasted on Channel 8.
The television landscape is fast-changing in Singapore. MediaCorp continues to monopolise the free-to-air terrestrial market and has introduced its online streaming service Toggle to keep to pace with other pay television operators such as Singtel TV and StarHub TV and popular online streaming television services.
TIn 1965, a television in Singapore had broadcasted the country’s secession from Malaysia and independence in 1985, as well as the Hotel New World catastrophe in 1986 and the SARS epidemic in 2003. Televisions in Singapore have come a long way, and they’ve served as news and current events carriers to an extent.