Broadcasting in Singapore

Broadcasting in Singapore began on 5 May 1923 when Radio Singapura was established as the first local mass market radio service. Subsequently, on 15 February 1963, before the withdrawal of the British Armed Forces and after the merger with Malaya, Singapore's first television service began as Televisyen Singapura (TV Singapura) under its owner, Radio Television Singapore (RTS).



Radio Singapura (1923–1963)

Radio Singapura, the first local radio service, was launched on 5 May 1923. The radio service shut down temporarily due to World War II, and radio frequencies were tightly controlled. The service resumed and flourished as Singapore gained gradual autonomy from the United Kingdom after the war.

Radio Singapura subsequently became part of Radio Television Singapore (RTS), which in turn became part of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). After SBC was fully privatised, it became the Radio Corporation of Singapore (RCS).

Rediffusion Singapore

With the success of Radio Singapura another key player in the broadcasting industry in the pre-independence Singapore, Rediffusion Singapore, introduced cable broadcasting service to Singapore in 1949. Rediffusion Singapore brought radio to housing areas which lacked decent radio reception with unrivalled sound quality compared to the conventional radio technologies at that time.

Radio Rediffusion, the pioneer cable-radio operator on Clemenceau Avenue, continued to operate in the modern era of radio broadcasting in Singapore, however, it was not entirely able to withstand the forces of technology and time. Rediffusion operated successfully for many years on a subscription-based model, and while the service did make the digital transition (even pioneering the use of encrypted DAB+), it was becoming evident that more changes were needed to keep the operation alive. The changes that were made proved to be not enough and this led to a down-shifting, eventually closing down, and having its name and assets sold off in 2012.[1]

NTUC Heart (1991-2001)


SAFRA Radio is managed by the SAFRA National Service Association, a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to the welfare of National Servicemen (colloquially called "NSmen"). SAFRA Radio runs two stations, Power98FM and 883JiaFM, broadcasting in English and Mandarin Chinese respectively. The stations cater to national and professional servicemen, and both radio stations are entertainment-based, featuring modern commercial music and the latest entertainment news.

SPH Radio

SPH Radio operates radio stations UFM100.3 in Mandarin, as well as Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3 in English.

HOT FM91.3 is an English Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) music station playing new and current top 40 hits targeting listeners under 30. Programs and promotions are injected with loads of fun and quirkiness with a key focus on engagement and the listener’s experience. Hot FM91.3 has become well known for identifying and playing hits before they are hits. Listeners are given control over the playlist through Hot FM91.3’s online feedback platform called “Rate The Hits” which allows listeners to directly influence which songs they want to hear and how often. HOT FM91.3 also introduced ‘HOTFM CONTROL’ in which fans are given access to an entire database of songs that the station plays. Fans will be able to determine the next track that they want to hear in real-time with their votes and the winning song will be played on air immediately. With the introduction of HOTFM CONTROL, a fan’s preference makes up the music selection of the station’s weekly playlist. The station is also focused on engagement with its listeners through on-ground events such as its signature “Must Drink Friday” held on the last Friday of the month with free flow of drinks and interaction with their favourite DJs. Hot FM also engages its listeners on the street with car decal giveaways and live broadcast, in school with Recess Express school visits, online with Facebook and the station website, and on Mobile with Hot FM’s iPhone & Android apps.

The HOT FM91.3 line-up includesThe Shan & Cheryl Show in the mornings from 6 am to 10 pm. JJ plays non-stop hits from 10 am to 4 pm followed by BT, Adam and Josh taking you home from 4 pm to 7;30 pm. Charmaine Yee of the HOT 30 Countdown rounds up the day with the daily fan rated chart show.

Hot FM is now known as ONE FM, and targets a male audience demographic.

In September 2012, Singapore welcomed its newest radio station in over 20 years, KISS 92 FM, raising the number of radio stations from 18 to 19 on the island. Following a tender for bids on two open dial positions, the media company SPH UnionWorks Pte Ltd was successful in procuring the one opening that was ultimately allotted at 92.0 MHz with a proposal to have the station target mainly women listeners, but also included in the anticipated target audience – families.[2] It provides in-depth women and family content, coupled with adult contemporary music. Women aged 30 and above, and families will find the channel informative and entertaining.

Kiss92 brings on experts to share their knowledge on topics such as Relationships and Family Matters, Health and Wellness issues, Financial Planning and Career Advancements. It also covers Fashion and Beauty, Shopping, Entertainment, as well as offer listings of family friendly and community events. Tapping on its collaboration with SPH Magazines,

Maddy, Jason and Arnold in the morning start the day from 6 am to 10 pm followed by Claressa Monteiro jazzing up the afternoon from 10 am to 2 pm. Desiree Lai from 2 pm to 4 pm and John Klass taking fans home helming the 4pm to 8pm show.

UFM100.3 is a highly charged Mandarin infotainment station targeting at working professionals aged between 35 – 49 years that is specially catered to their lifestyle. Its creative, lively and engaging delivery style is able to consistently hook listeners on for a far longer period of listening. Program content is designed to cater specifically for the busy individuals with timely updates and discussion on current affairs, health and wellness, financial planning, property investment, communication, lifestyle, music and entertainment.

The station’s drive-time programmes are anchored by veteran DJs Wenhong, Limei and Xiaozhu in the morning, and DJ Anna in the evening. Lunch time programme is helmed by Yuling from 10 am to 2 pm followed by Liangquan from 2 pm to 5 pm.

The station actively engages its listeners through various interactive events such as dinner gatherings and enrichment workshops. To further strengthen loyalty, DJs also reaches out to the public through its outdoor activations, conducting games and giveaway prizes while introducing the station to new potential listeners. UFM100.3 also supports various community, non-profit and charity organizations with its annual U-Shine program that raises public awareness of lesser known causes and charities.


There is only one television company in the country, which is MediaCorp, owned by the State. Prior to 2005, broadcasting enterprise SPH MediaWorks was competing against MediaCorp, until its eventual merger with the latter in 1 January 2005.

The return of market monopoly

After the merger of MediaCorp TV and SPH MediaWorks from mass market free-to-air terrestrial television channel and free daily national newspaper operations on New Year's Eve in 2005, MediaCorp the first local broadcaster once again became the monopoly in the free-to-air terrestrial channels broadcasting market after four years.

Private ownership of satellite dishes is illegal although international television channels (such as BBC World News and CNN International News) are available on StarHub TV based in cable television and SingTel's mio TV based in IPTV services.


The issue of language used in broadcasting has caused many controversies in the short but significant history of local broadcasting. Tight censorship and control over the language used have resulted in programmes which have been severely edited and dubbed in the name of protecting national interests.

On 1 January 2002, in accordance with the state policy of promoting Mandarin on local television channels have been banned from showing programmes in Cantonese and Hokkien dialects for 14 years. These programs, such as popular television serials from Hong Kong and Taiwan, which use both Hong Kong Cantonese and Hokkien respectively, have to be dubbed into Mandarin. Local television series or programmes cannot use any form of dialect and are subjected to tight censorship with the exception of Eat Already? and Happy Can Already!, a locally produced dialect drama and variety show respectively. Similarly, national newspapers were not allowed to carry listings for Malaysia's TV3, a member of Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad (STMB), also broadcast a significant amount of Hong Kong Cantonese programmes. Ironically, Malaysia state-run Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) currently operates five free channels in Malaysia: TV1 and TV2 did broadcast programmes in Cantonese for a period of time. Although these were not meant for viewers in Singapore, Singaporeans could still receive the television signals. TV2 is no longer free-to-air in Singapore due to its broadcasting of foreign copyrighted programmes, that includes in Chinese dialects. Hong Kong's TVB Jade is broadcasting in Hong Kong Cantonese and is now available only on StarHub TV. TV1 is officially the only free-to-air channel from Malaysia in Singapore.

See also

Defunct companies

Existing companies


  1. Freeman, B.C., & Ramakrishnan, Y. (2016). Singapore radio: Then & now. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  2. Freeman, B.C., & Ramakrishnan, Y. (2012). Red dot on the dial: Singapore radio then & now. In J. Hendricks (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of global radio, pp. 299-319. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
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