Radio and Television Singapore (RTS) was converted from a department within the then Ministry of Culture into a statutory board known as the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) on 1 February 1980. The basis for corporatisation was to free RTS from the administrative and budgetary constraints that had hampered its ability to upgrade broadcasting services to meet the growing expectations of local audiences.
The conversion was effected through the passing of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Act in parliament on 11 December 1979. The act provided for the formation of the SBC to take over the functions, assets and staff of RTS. As a statutory board, the SBC was given autonomy and greater flexibility in matters such as the recruitment of staff, improvement and expansion of services, facilities and equipment, as well as the procurement of new technology.
However, to safeguard public interest, the overall policy of the organisation remained under government purview through the Ministry of Culture, where the minister was authorised to give directions to the SBC on matters pertaining to its functions, operations and administration. Then Minister for Communications and Acting Minister for Culture Ong Teng Cheong became the first chairman of the organisation, while then Permanent Secretary (Culture) Cheng Tong Fatt was appointed general manager.
The SBC aimed to provide adequate, comprehensive and high-quality programmes that informed, educated and entertained the general public. It was also responsible for ensuring that the programmes broadcast did not violate public decency or offend racial and religious sensitivities. To enable the production of more and better-quality programmes, the organisation embarked on recruitment drives and engaged specialists to train new and existing staff. In its first year, the number of staff increased from 1,335 to 1,648. The organisation also invested S$8.6 million in new infrastructure and technology such as the new radio transmission tower at Bukit Batok, and electronic news gathering equipment.
Prior to the establishment of the SBC, a design competition was held in January 1980 for a new logo. Unveiled on 18 May the same year, the winning entry featured “SBC” in gold letterings, set against a blue background and arranged in a pattern that represented a flowing videotape.
1. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. (1981). Singapore Broadcasting Corporation annual report 1980/81 (p. 2). Singapore: Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. Call no.: RCLOS 384.540625957 SBCAR-[AR]; Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. (1980, January 25). The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Act (Commencement) Notification, 1980. (S 20/1980, p. 48). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGSLS.
2. Republic of Singapore. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1979, September 21). Second Reading of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Bill (Vol. 39, cols. 472, 477). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN.
3. Republic of Singapore. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1979, December 11). Third Reading of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Bill (Vol. 39, cols. 523–525). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN.
4. Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette. Acts Supplement. (1980, January 11). The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Act 1979 (Act 33 of 1979) (p. 1). Singapore: Government Printer Office. Call no.: RSING 384.5957 SGGAS.
5. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 21 Sep 1979, Second Reading, Vol. 39, col. 472.
6. Government Gazette. Acts Supplement, 11 Jan 1980, pp. 6–7.
7. SBC directors. (1980, January 20). The Straits Times, p. 6; Leong, W. K. (1980, March 14). SBC takes on three Taiwan newscasters. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, 1981, p. 13.
9. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, 1981, p. 8.
10. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, 1981, p. 2.
11. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, 1981, pp. 10–12.
12. $5,000 prize for SBC logo. (1980, January 17). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, 1981, p. 12; SBC’s new logo. (1980, May 19). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at March 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.