Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA)

by Tan, Bonny

The Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) was set up on 1 October 1994 with the passing of the Singapore Broadcasting Authority Act 1994 (now known as Broadcasting Act). Established as a statutory board under the former Ministry of Information and the Arts (currently Ministry of Communications and Information), SBA played a central role in the regulation and promotion of Singapore’s broadcasting industry.1

Establishment and key roles
With the privatisation of Singapore’s broadcasting industry, SBA was formed to meet the challenges posed by foreign competition.2 Its mission was to develop quality programmes and shape Singapore into a dynamic broadcasting hub, so as to help build a well-informed, culturally rich, socially cohesive and economically vibrant society.3

Starting off with a 10-member board of directors, SBA’s role was to develop a creative and responsible broadcasting industry in Singapore. Through cooperation  with the Economic Development Board, National Computer Board and Telecommunication Authority of Singapore, it aimed to develop Singapore as a regional broadcasting hub.4 Besides encouraging foreign programming and broadcast-related companies to set up their operations in Singapore, SBA also monitored developments in the industry to determine the pace at which the market could be further liberalised.5

Amongst its tasks, SBA licensed and regulated broadcast services, ensured adherence of public service broadcasting obligations by broadcasting licensees, and established guidelines for programming. It was also responsible for regulating the use of receiving apparatus and collection of license fees.6 It controlled not only traditional broadcast services, but also new media forms such as the Internet, digital audio broadcasting and digital television.7

SBA kept in touch with public opinion on television and radio programmes by working with advisory committees and grassroots organisations which comprised members representing a cross-section of society.8 It was also the Singapore government’s representative in international broadcasting matters.9

On 1 January 2003, a new statutory board, the Media Development Authority, was formed with the merger of SBA, the Films and Publications Department and the Singapore Film Commission.10


Bonny Tan

1. “10-Member Broadcasting Authority Board Named,” Straits Times, 30 September 1994, 28; “Milestones in Singapore’s Media History,” Straits Times, 8 September 2008, 48 (From NewspaperSG); Broadcasting Act, Cap 28, Singapore Statutes Online
2. “A New Era Dawns in Singapore Broadcasting,” Business Times, 1 October 1994, 22; Cherian George, “SBC Restructured into Several Govt-Owned Firms,” Straits Times, 1 October 1994, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report (Singapore: Singapore Broadcasting Authority, 1996), 3. (Call no. RCLOS 384.54095957 SBAAR-[AR])
4. “10-Member Broadcasting Authority Board Named”; Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report, 14.
5. Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report, 4–5; Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report (Singapore: Singapore Broadcasting Authority, 1997), 2. (Call no. RCLOS 384.54095957 SBAAR-[AR])
6. Ministry of Culture, Singapore (Singapore: Ministry of Culture, 1998), 277. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
7. Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report, 2–3; Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report, 14.
8. Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report, 22; Singapore Broadcasting Authority, Annual Report, 18.
9. The Singapore Broadcasting Authority Act, Act 15 of 1994, Government Gazette. Acts Supplement, 67. (Call no. RSING 348.5957 SGGAS)
10. Anil Menon et al., “Media Competition Code to Be Out By June,” Straits Times, 1 November 2002, 5 (From NewspaperSG); Ministry of Culture, Singapore, 267.

Further resources
Ang Peng Hwa and Yeo Tiong Min, Mass Media Laws and Regulations in Singapore (Singapore: Asian Media Information and Communication Centre, 1998). (Call no. RSING 343.5957099 MAS)

Anura Goonasekera and Lee Chun Wah, eds., Asian Communication Handbook 2001 (Singapore: Asian Media Information & Communication Centre, 2001).
(Call no.: RSING q302.23095 ASI)

Broadcasting Overhaul Will Give Govt Wider Powers,” Straits Times, 26 July 1994, 20. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as of 2016 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.


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