Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wish all my friends at Caldecott Hill Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009.

click here for a Christmas song:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Remember Channel 8

Remember Channel 8

Channel 8 was launched in 1963 as a black and white channel on VHF. It turned colour in 1970s. In the 1980s there was a breakthrough ... increase of local content with great efforts in Chinese Drama..and Variety productions. Last night Sunday 23 Nov 2008 .. MediaCorp's Channel 8 celebrated 45 years of Chinese entertainment in Singapore with the biggest reunion of stars .
Awards were given out to honour those whose names have become popular with Channel 8. The Most Memorable TV Host award went to TV veteran Zhang Wei. The Most Classic Character award was given to 'Liang Po Po', a character played by actor-director Jack Neo. Actress Chen Li Ping was awarded for the Most Classic Drama Character for her unforgettable role as dedicated teacher 'Ai Yoyo'. Chua Foo Yong received the Most Memorable News Anchor award .

Congratulations Channel 8!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Road to Digital Television..&HD

The Road to Digital Television….and HD
…it is not to be that the world should have one common digital television standard.... Just as it was split into PAL, NTSC and SECAM for analogue TV, digital is split into four standards ATSC from USA, ISDB from Japan and DMB-T from China. In 1999 MediaCorp (TCS then) was asked by the then Singapore Broadcasting Authority to propose the adoption of a national standard for digital TV. I was given the task to round up people in the industry and make a recommendation. There were good representations from the industry ..companies such as SONY, Panasonic, Philips , Starhub etc and institutions such as NTU, NUS, the Polytechnics participated in the discussions and field trial of the systems from Japan, Europe and USA. The Chinese standard was not ready yet. After 6 months of exhaustive testing in the HDB and private estates the task force (known as the Singapore Digital Television Technical Committee) unanimously recommended the DVB standard from Europe for reasons of ruggedness, ability for mobile TV operation and ready to market. It turned out later most of the countries going digital adopted this standard and would enjoy economies of scale. Subsequently in the following two years MediaCorp put on air 3 channels (ch 5, 8 and CNA)in standard definition digital. Also a digital service TVMobile was launched for commuters in buses . TVMobile was the first such service in the world. It attracted a lot of attention world over…visitors from USA, Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Taiwan etc came and studied this world’s first. Beijing and Shanghai implemented this system and made money quickly because of volume in the TV market. Taiwan also implemented similar system.
Meanwhile in the last five years HDTV became popular mainly because of availability of HDTV receivers that were marketed ahead of broadcast transmissions. As such more HDTV content were created and a critical mass had appeared in countries such as Japan, USA and Korea. China also committed to have future services in high-definition. The recent Beijing Olympics were produced all in high-definition. Against this backdrop Singapore through the efforts of MDA facilitated the launch of HDTV channels in StarHub Cable and MediaCorp Terrestrial Network in 2007. Currently there are 5 HD channels on Cable and one on terrestrial HD5. More channels are expected.
MediaCorp has announced it will convert all its channels to HD when analogue TV is switched off (ASO).
When is ASO?? That is another story…

Friday, September 19, 2008

SportsCity..where the action never stops

I remember SportsCity…..the channel where the action never stops.

SportsCity was launched on 30 January 2000 …as a free-to-air sports channel over the UHF band ….and the first in the region. It promised to bring to Singapore viewers sports entertainment with all the glory and excitement. It brought live or on same day of coverage as many games from around the world. True to its promise, viewers were treated to events such as Euro2000 ‘live’, NBA finals, WWF Superstars, USPGA. Formula One World Championships, All-England Finals, Xtremesports and many more. Unfortunately within two years the channel had to close because it was not viable mainly because of the exorbitant fee for sports rights. However viewers can still enjoy sports entertainment from Starhub Cable Vision which boasts of more than five channels as well on Channel 5 and Channel NewsAsia from time to time.

Please see below a piece of recent information from a local newspaper.
“SPORTSCITY, a free-to-air sports channel launched in 2000, was not viable and had to be shut down within two years.
Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang on Tuesday brought up the failed MediaCorp venture to explain why the idea of a free-to-air sports channel here was a non-starter.
MP Penny Low (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) had pitched the idea in Parliament, arguing that it was a way to cultivate the spirit of a sporting nation in the lead up to the Youth Olympics.
Dr Lee said the only way to sustain such a channel was to significantly raise radio and TV licence fees, a solution that is not in the best interest of the public.
Instead, he said the needs of the consumer were better met with commercially viable pay-TV channels.
He also assured the House that key sporting events of national significance, including the Youth Olympics, would be aired on free channels.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

MediaCorp is the only free-to-air TV broadcaster in Singapore. Its HQ is on Caldecott Hill. Before 2001 it was known as:
- Television Singapura (1963–1965)
- Radio and Television of Singapore (RTS) (1965–1980)
- Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) (1980–1994)
- Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) and the Radio Corporation of Singapore (RCS) (1994–2001)

For more information click here: Info

Sunday, August 31, 2008

i remember the Miss Universe Pageant 1987

contestants at Merlion SBC Cameraman on Location

Preparing the Stage at WT Centre

A TV show to remember….. It was held at the World Trade Centre in Singapore in May 1987 produced and beamed via satellite to millions world- wide. Cecilia Bolocco of Chile was crowned Miss Universe 1987 in front of a packed audience.
Singapore Tourist Promotion Board sponsored the event ‘cause they wanted to attract more tourists into Singapore. The then SBC provided technical support in televison production and transmission facilities and production crews. To prepare for this event myself, Suhami Jais, Yeo Juay Thiew the late William Lee and two STPB officers went to Alburqueque New Mexico to understudy the production of Miss USA.
We worked with many professionals of the US TV production industry. Some were from Canada. The executive producer was George Honchar who was also the president. The director was Tony Charmoli. The other executives if I could remember was Sid Smith and Tom Grasso. And the most important person I think who taught our lighting designers how to light for mega production Hollywood –style was Carl Vitelli. Lessons in all the production areas from producing and directing , post production, lighting, camera work, sound recording etc to logistics support were quickly learnt in the three months that led into the mega- show. The technical and productions skills acquired enabled SBC to stage and produced mega-events in subsequent years.
The event was full of excitement both for the workers in the show and Singaporeans in general . We were all pleased with this rare and golden opportunity for us to take part in working for the Miss Universe Pageant 1987.

watch video:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

1971 First time live for N-Day Rally speech -Ananda remembers..

First time live for N-Day Rally speech

I was the producer of the historic 6th National Day Rally speech in 1971, when it went live for the first time.
The usual “drill” on this occasion was as follows. The Prime Minister was met on arrival at the car porch of the National Theatre. The producer followed him to the make-up room for any last minute instructions
On this historic day, I was asked by then PM Lee Kuan Yew what was on local channels from 7.30pm onwards. I told him. Then he asked me an unexpected question: What was on Malaysian channels?.
Fortunately, having worked with him on many such productions, I was prepared. I told him what was on. Then he reached into his pocket and took a cutting of the TV listings to counter-check. That is how prepared you must be when you deal with Mr Lee,
He then asked me if we could go live. I said yes. He told me to make multilingual announcements on both radio and TV by fading all programmes on air to blank. He also told me to make announcements in Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English to ensure the audience at the National Theatre was kept informed.
I rushed to the outside broadcast van parked in the carpark to call my director, the late Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin.
“Please don’t ask any questions,” I told her. “PM has instructed that we fade all radio and TV programmes on air to black by making an announcement that we will go to live telecast and broadcast of the PM’s National Day Rally speech at the National Theatre.”
There was gasp at the other end. I told Mrs Wong to go ahead. Ten minutes into the live broadcast , the then Cabinet secretary Mr Wong Chooi Sen, tapped on our van door:
“Hey, Ananda, Dr Goh Keng Swee, the defence minister, wants to know if you are absolutely certain PM instructed you to broadcast live?”
Although I died a thousand deaths at that moment , I shouted a firm”yes”. After the broadcast I rushed back to meet Mr Lee in the make-up room. He asked if the broadcast went live without any technical hitches. I said it went flawlessly. He said good and I lived to tell the tale! –Ananda Perera
(The article appeared in the ST Forum dd 26 August 2008)

Peter HL Lim writing in WeekendToday said "Few, if any,would dispute that the most dramatic of the 43 annual Nationa Day Rally speecheswas the one in 1971, It was the first one telecast live........" read the exciting story of whyMinister Mentor went live in 1971 at

I was then a young technical operator in the studio and occasionally did vision control in the TV OB. I had the opportunity to operate the Auto Cue and related broadcast system for VVIPs recordings. In subsequent years as an engineer-in-charge Studios and Outside Broadcasts I supported Ananda in many of his productions which included the National Day Parade, National Day Message in Television Studio Three and of course the National Rally Speeches at the Kallang Theatre. For such productions we were doubly quick and alert to ensure things go on flawlessly .....

Ananda Perera had a successful and illustrious career with the company and grew from the
ranks and file to become the Director of News.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Occasion to remember.....

After some years the long service award ceremony of the company was back again. On 31 July 2008 MediaCorp held a function at its theatre for 166 staff who had 5, 10,15,20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years service. I was honoured to be among the five who got the 40 years (40.75 to be exact) award as well a few minutes of video clip which was shown in front of a packed audience. My wife and daughter and son-in-law attended. This was the first and last that they would attend one I think. They thought it was a fantastic way of recognizing loyal and dedicated staff . My wife said it was one sure way for the company to win hearts.
The long list of recipients included people that I had worked for many years. Couple of big wigs from general management. Then there were the operations people.. video editors, journalists, engineers and production staff etc. Six artistes received the Artiste Appreciation Award. Among them was Aileen Tan who was of the winners of first star award held in 1988. Because of time constraint only a selected a few were given a chance to speak. I spoke briefly mentioning that I had a successful career, full of excitement on the Hill and it was with a sense of satisfaction that I received the long service certificate from the CEO Mr Lucas Chow. I also said that I stayed in the company for so long because of good people I worked with .....with CEOS that come and go, my bosses and my peers. And most important my staff with me over the years. Nice people. Also I had a passion for technologies excite me and when they could be implemented there was always a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction…Lastly was the recognition for work done. The occasional pat on the back. One must have it or else it would be meaningless to work. I had my fair share of pay rises, bonuses and training both local and overseas…..and what about your most memorable occasions and advice to young engineers? Time did not permit to talk more …in any case they were planning a big party for me (reaching 62 on 26 August 2008) and there would be opportunity to say more…..
The event at the Theatre ended with more photo-taking a big hearty lunch. A lot of networking among staff….another memorable event for staff of MediaCorp. The emotive value of being recognised is a great thing…....

Friday, August 22, 2008

And then there was Mediaworks...

About 8 years ago Mediaworks. owned by SPH and with initial capital of $50m started two free-to-air channels Channel i (English) and Channel U (Chinese) . It was issued a licence by the Government to compete with the dominant broadcaster Mediacorp so as to improve the quality of programming and increase viewers choice. Channel U seemed to fair better than Channel I mainly because most of English programmes were already bought by MediaCorp and Channel U had good Chinese programmes syndicated from Taiwan, China and Hongkong. Channel U also had substantial local productions to attract the Chinese viewers from Channel 8. Both situations increased the costs of operations sky-high. Also because of competition the costs to MediaCorp for programming also went up. As a result both companies bled ( A big gun said both MediaCorp TV and Mediaworks TV are "haemorhaging") After careful consideration both parties decided to close down Mediaworks and let MediaCorp run Channel U. Channel I being not commercially viable went of the air on 1 Jan 2005. By then MediaCorp got bruises all over and its plan for a public listing did not materialise. A new TV holding company was created to operate Channel U, Channel 5, Channel I and TVMobile ..owned jointly by MediaCorp and SPH with SPH having a small stake. The rest of the channels Suria, Central and Channel NewsAsia continued to be 100% owned by MediaCorp.
Among the reasons given for the failure were that the free-to-air market in Singapore was not big enough for competition….and the other reason was the strategic error in programming by Mediaworks….. clashing headon with MediaCorp…some say it should have adopted the strategy of complementary programming and be contented to be second instead of trying too hard to be the first….....

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Goodbye RSI...Goodbye Kranji

A historical day for broadcasting in Singapore.. 1 Aug 2008

A moment ago RSI closed down….also the transmitting station at Kranji….after more than 40 years of keeping our neighbours informed of developments in Singapore. A big party was held at the Kranji Transmitting Station ..…with the big guns witnessing the service switch-off and paying tribute to all staff there who had contributed with loyalty and dedication.. Thankfully all staff will be redeployed.. gainfully. Here is some background information. Radio Singapore International (RSI) is a radio service that broadcasts to the South East Asian Region namely Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and countries within a span of 1600 km from Singapore. The service which was launched in 1994 is in English, Malay, Chinese and Bahasa Indonesia about 11 hours daily. It is transmitted on different frequencies using powerful shortwave transmitters situated at Kranji . Before 1994 shortwave services broadcasting the local radio channels were transmitted from Jurong. Because of housing and MRT development the station was rebuilt to the present site at Kranji. RSI helps to foster a sense of common purpose amoung our neighbouing coutnries through programmes which emphasise good neighbourliness and promote mutual understanding in the social, economic and cultural fields.Loyal listeners from all over expressed surprise at the switch-off and wish all the staff best wishes in their next career. Besides staff at Caldecott Hill and government officials, retired staff who had spent their lifetime in shortwave services turned up at the big party to wish them well. One such person is 78-year old Mr Ujagar Singh. He was the man responsible to get the funds for building Kranji station and project engineer at that time. Still in the pink of health ( he drinks pure cow’s milk daily since he was born) he encouraged the Kranji and RSI staff to look forward to their new career….
And according to the big boss of MediaCorp…… with new information technologies and change in media consumption habits of people…such event is to be expected. It is not an occasion for sadness but for all to celebrate many years of providing shortwave services out of Singapore and making a chapter in Singapore history …Congratulations one an all for writing this chapter that cannot be erased!!
Goodbye RSI and Kranji… Goodbye
(Shortwave started in 1936..please email me if you have fond memories

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not many know...the very early days of Radio

The first radio transmission in Singapore was a short wave service 6060khz on the 49metere band starting as early as Nov 1932, It was reported this station operated at 2 Orchard Road. This was followed by a medium wave service. According to Adrian Petersen of the RadioHeritage Foundation…”Soon after the shortwave broadcasting service was launched, plans were announced for the establishment of a local broadcasting service, on mediumwave. The transmitter power was 2kW, the operating channel was 1232 kHz, the callsign was ZHL, and the location was in a government building in Empress Place. This mediumwave station began a regular broadcasting service on June 1, 1936. Programming on both shortwave and mediumwave was in parallel. A couple of years later, the studio facility was transferred to Cathay Building…”

And from another source..... “ By early December 1941, Cathay cinema remained one of the few places for relaxation in those anxious times, screening movies despite dwindling audiences. With the war imminent, the main building was rented out to the government and the British Malaya Broadcasting Corporation. A total of five floors were occupied by broadcast studios and administration, two floors for the Ministry of Economic Warfare, while the Royal Air Force occupied two rooms on another floor. It became the 'brain centre' for the colonial masters. During the initial air-raids and before the 'Fall of Singapore' in World War II, the building's ground floor was used by nearby residents as an air-raid shelter. On 8 February, when the Japanese accelerated their attacks on Singapore, Radio Malaya actively broadcast updates on enemy advances from their studios here, at Cathay Building. In February 1942, it has been estimated that the cinema was hit by at least 14 shells, with one striking on 15 February after noon, killing a few Australians who were in the hall at the time. The cinema hall was then being used for shelter and refuge. Singapore fell into enemy hands that evening.During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese Broadcasting Department moved into the readily available Radio Malaya "broadcasting facilities" and began Radio Syonan's transmissions from here, in March 1942. Later their Propaganda Department Headquarters and Military Information Bureau were stationed here too. The restaurant became the dining room for Japanese Military officers stationed in the building. Occasional movie screenings were held for the public but these films were from existing stock from the storerooms. The 4th floor preview theatre screened American movies exclusively for Japanese Officers. The horrific sights outside Cathay Building during this grim time, were human heads stuck on poles, these were beheaded looters and other victims on a "clean-out" by the Japanese military. ……”

For another piece of interesting story please read Singapore Goes of the air at
Note: The Cathay Building was opened in 2 Oct 1939. It was 83m high the tallest building in Singapore then. The architect was Frank Brewer. Photo is by courtesy of the National Archives.
Please email me at
if you wish to add more to the story or correct impressions..

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Pioneering Years at Caldecott Hill - Mun Chor Seng

Radio DaysChor Seng joined Radio Malaya’s (RM) Recorded Programme Division as a
Broadcasting Assistant Grade 4 in 1958 and worked his way up to become Singapore Broadcasting Corporation’s (SBC) Head of Location Operations for all film and video productions. He has witnessed Caldecott Hill’s dramatic transformation over his 40 years of service in broadcasting. As a Broadcast Assistant under British colonial administration, his studio duties included playing 78 rpm records in the Conty (small console. See attached picture) and providing
music & sound effects balancing for radio plays.
Separation from Malaya
Four years later, he was selected to pioneer the Camera Film Unit as an Assistant
Cameraman and by 1970 led the Camera & Sound Unit. In those early days of film and
air travel, he was part of the camera crew that accompanied then PM Lee Kuan Yew on
his Malaysian Mission to 17 countries in Africa in early 1964. In 1965, when Dr Toh Chin Chye and Mr S Rajaratnam re-visited Africa to explain Singapore’s eviction from Malaysia, Chor Seng was tasked to cover the assignment as well as Singapore’s subsequent application and admission to the United Nations.
Monochrome to ColourIn 1974, Chor Seng was sent to BBC/ITV/Visnews in London for training to prepare the
station’s switch over from monochrome to colour transmission. In 1977, he attended a 3-month Camera & Lighting Course together with Nicholas Seet at SFB in Berlin, West Germany. He retired in December 1998 after working for forty challenging and unforgettable years at Caldecott Hill. He had fond memories of his early years in Radio Malaya (Singapore), a large part of which involved the pioneering of TV broadcast in Singapore. Broadcasting Milestones
Chor Seng remembers that ….”when TV Singapura was established 1963, filming was done on the 16mm film format. When the Chinese Drama Unit was created in 1982, the “Seletar Robbery” and the
“Army Series” that created a breakthrough for local dramas were shot on 16mm colour
film. We had to overcome formidable technical problems during those first film productions, for example high film cost, fully manual equipment, labourious post production, etc. By mid 80s, portable video ENG (Electronic News Gathering) cameras were acquired by the station and used by all the camera crews including drama productions. The video cameras were cost effective, produced better visuals, was easy to operate and were equipped with light and sound measurement features…..
I am happy that I was able to contribute to the success of Chinese Drama during its foundation years….”

Info from Mun Chor Seng. He can be contacted at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

If a Tower could speak......

“The engineers on Caldecott Hill planned for my birth in the early 1960s. Eventually I grew up ,8km away from Caldecott Hill and stood tall 155 m above Bukit Batok Hill. They said the Department of Broadcasting spent a lot of money so that I could carry a TV antenna for Singapore first black and white transmission over Channel Five.. Eventually on 15 February 1963 I delivered the first TV programme to the homes - a 15-minute documentary produced by TV Singapura called TV Looks at Singapore followed by a cartoon called Heckle and Jeckle. I was told that many Singaporeans were very pleased with me that day. After that day my load increased steadily not only in terms of hours of transmission but also another TV channel called Channel 8 mainly for the Chinese-speaking. More responsibility was added in 1967 when FM Radio was introduced. And when they wanted to add another channel in 1981 called TV12 it was too much for me . So another one was born. Also they did some succession planning knowing that I would go one day and the third was built. The day came when engineers spotted massive brown stuff on me. I believed they called it rust. My days had arrived. on 14 July 2006 where all signals and lights were switched off at mid-night. A big party was organized to bid me good-bye. Who am I?
I was the first TV transmission tower in Singapore – a eyesore to some but a memorable icon to many who travelled along Bukit Timah passing by Beauty World”.

Many would have noticed there are now only two transmission towers on Bukit Batok Hill. Many retired staff as well officials came for the party on that night to pay a tribute to the old tower who had served Singapore viewers very well for 45 years without a word of complaint……....
Info from SY Tan and Cynthia

Monday, July 21, 2008

15 February 1963

Source: MITA-Courtesy of National Archives

15 February 1963

This was the day TV arrived in Singapore. After much debate as early as 1956 the Legislative Assembly decided to introduce TV in Singapore starting with one channel one and half hours of programmes a day. Big gathering of 500 VIPs and thousands watched the the first black and white TV telecast at the inauguration event held at Victoria Memorial Hall.. TV sets were placed strategically along Prince Elizabeth Walk and 52 community centres for Singaporeans to have first glimpse of television.
“If used intelligently and responsibly television can, far more effectively than any other form of communications , broaden the intellectual horizons of the ordinary man” –said the Minister of Culture S Rajaratnam in his message on television.

source of info: On Television in Singapore publication by SBC

Give a man a fish......

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” -unknown author
Broadcasting here would not be what it is today if not for the continual upgrading and development of knowledge and skills. In the early days of broadcasting BBC was the place where the company turned to. Many chiefs and staff went to a place in Evesham called Wood Norton for training. The BBTraining Centre built before the war was the centre for broadcast training world-wide for many broadcast stations.. I was there a couple of times and very impressed by the high quality of training there. When SBC introduced colour TelevsionI remembered two BBC experts came to Singapore with their families and spent a number of years here. John Kirkus taught Colour TV Engineering and Alan Bermingham Lighting Techniques. Many engineers and studio crew had fond memories of these two experts. In the late 70s RTS shared training facilities with Telecoms in a place called the Telecentre at no 1 Hillcrest Road (later on called the Singapore Telecom Academy). We used to run about twenty courses –engineering as well as studio operations to teach studio and OB crews how to use cameras, sound and lighting equipment creatively. On January 84 SBC opened a 3-storey Training School , fully equipped with studios ,post production suites,dance studio etc to cater for training for drama artistes, producers, script writers, dancers etc….running in parallel with the engineering and operations training at the Telecentre. Some years later the Broadcast arm at the Telecentre closed down and was integrated with SBC Training School on Caldecott Hilll……
Share with us if you have more info and the other places you have gone for broadcast training besides the BBC (which I believe included NHK, Japan and in Germany as well) email:

The above picture of BBC Training Centre Wood Norton, Evesham is by courtesy of Mike Baker. You can contac him at

The picture shows me receiving a graduation certificate in London from Lord Thomson. The training was for Colour TV Engineering at Thomson Training College in Newton Mearnes North of River Cyde Glasgow. Had a terrific time there with other international students.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Four stamps tell the story....

1963 -1988

The story of SBC 25 years of television from 1963 to 1988 was told in four special commemorative stamps. Issued on 4th April by Telecoms stamps highlighted the innovations and developments over the period.
10 cents – depicts a colour OB Van which made possible coverage of the General Elections and for mega outdoor events like the National Parade at the national stadium and the Padang
35 cents – depicts the new charged-coupled devices colour cameras and related studio equipment acquired to meet the rising needs of local TV productions in the four language streams
75 cents - depicts the high transmission tower that brought daily TV programmes to the homes . More than a million viewers watched events such as the NDP on their TV sets with signals from this tower
$1 - depicts satellite dish for the reception of international programmes which gave variety and richness to TV programming for Singaporeans over the years.
Ed Soriano and R Magindren from Graphics Unit designed the stamps using the lastest computer then ,the SuperNova which heralded the age of computer graphics for TV….

Except for the 10c stamp which is featured elsewhere on this page the rest of the stamps were not available for posting at this time. Only design pictures of the rest are shown.

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Another memorable event..17th SEA Games 1993

June 1993 saw the most extensive coverage of a TV event by SBC. It was the 17th SEA Games. Out of the three Games held in Singapore ( Singapore hosted in 1973 and 1983 as well) this was the most challenging and exciting. The number of sports was 29 (including Wushu) as compared to 18 in 1983. Singapore came in 4th in medal tally.. 50 gold against the winner Indonesia’s 88. More than 300 staff were involved in the operation with over 80hours of live TV coverage to stations all over the 8 countries. Radio reported all the games in the four language streams, Teletext (rebranded to inTV then) expanded pages to viewers with direct feed from Sports Council computers.
RTM from Malaysia, TPT and NBC from Thailand and Indonesia’s TVRI brought in equipment such OB Vans , microwave links . ENG cameras to boost resources. Thailand and Indonesia also transported uplink satellite stations to beam back signals to their respective countries. The nerve centre ie International Broadcast Centre(IBC) was set up at the multi-purpose hall at Caldecott Hill. The games were transmitted to the IBC and then beamed live back or edited with stand-uppers.
PM Goh Chok Tong lighted the SEA Games Torch. SBC also covered the closing ceremony at the National Stadium which was one of the most entertaining and exciting shows Singaoreans had ever seen.According to one of the officers from Channel 13 Phillipines….”The Philipines people are very happy . Even President Ramos praised the coverage. Channel 13 has the lowest viewership in the Philipines but during the SEA Games we managed to lure the Channel 4 sports viewers to Channel 13…”.
The event t was a marvelous piece of teamwork among the countries and a good example of how neighbouring countries could stage such event enjoyable successful .
There was a sense of fulfillment and happiness by all the staff after the event. Many of us (including me) were glad to be associated with this event.
Selected info from R Kumar and T H Yew.
Email me if you have memories to share of this event:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Search for Stars -1988

Before 1980 there had been attempts to start production of local Chinese dramas without much success. Came 1 Feb 1980…RTS became SBC a statutory board with greater autonomy and flexibility..this heralded in what I called the turbulent years of 1980s ...the roll over from a government department released great pent-up energies, created a lot of excitement, trials and tribulations and least of all in the build- up of the Chinese Drama Department…Many were not optimistic of success especially with the thinking that Singapore was small place and had no talent.. until a bright scholar came with the idea of a programme called Star Search. SBC’s Star Search happened in 1988 in front of a packed audience at World Trade Centre..Guest-of-Honour was Mr Goh Chok Tong DPM then. This event became a benchmark to flush out talent and was held continually ever since.
Star Search 88 found Zoe Tay (the winner) Aileen Tan and Chen Han Wei….they remain loyal and dedicated to the company till this day…..

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big dishes on top of Caldecott Hill..

When travelling along Thomson or Lornie road you can spot two 13-m dishes on top of Caldecott Hill...

..the big dishes are the antenna for receiving TV programmes from international satellites .
We got our own Earth Satellite Station (Receive Only) in Sep 1988.. installed on time to receive the Seoul Olympic Games. This facility made possible more hours of the Games for viewers. Henceforth more live coverage of sports and other international events were telecast. Previously such sport events were received through the Telecoms satellite station at Sentosa. With the first live satellite signals from Sentosa in July 1974 Singaporeans watched Holland beat Germany in the World Cup.
June 1990.. a second dish enhanced SBC’s ability to deliver the latest from around the world. Viewers witnessed the real-life drama unfolding in the Gulf region. Having the first dish facing the Pacific Ocean satellite and the second the Indian Ocean satellite SBC.s News Division could source daily feeds from a cross-section of the world’s top news agencies including CNN, Eurovision, Asian Vision, the French News and Trans World News. Also viewers could watch entertainment programmes such as the Academy Awards, Miss Universe etc …made possible by the big dishes on Caldecott Hill...

Info from John Tan

Friday, July 11, 2008

The most beautiful National Day Parade then...

Picture source: Mita-courtesy of National Archives

It was on 9 August 1986. The first National Day Parade with the a night segment. There were challenges and risk taking..cause it was the first time that SBC engineers wanted a electricity supply of two million watts (2MVA) for an outdoor show. They thought we were crazy. The big guns met and finally approved the go- ahead to build the power supply infrastructure. After months of preparation and a lot of hard work by all the Parade was shown with all its splendor and entertainment ..Hollywood style to the people of Singapore. It was the most beautiful show that I had ever seen. The show became a benchmark..for the next 21 years ( and the 2008 NDP as well) the second half of the event was produced and telecast at night..
Please share your experience if you remember
this event.. email:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why TV Presenters don't make mistakes.....

SriLankan PM and AUTOCUE at Caldecott TV Studio
Source: MITA Courtesy of Naitonal Archives

They do..but far in between. The reason is that presenters use a device called AUTOCUE. It is a facility where the script is display on a TV monitor and by an arrangement of mirrors the script is reflected directly together with the camera lens on to the eyes of the reader. As such the presenter is always looking into the lens and reading the script the same time..VVIPs also use the AUTOCUE . This facility helps to reduce recording time as well make the presenters look good. The AUTOCUE is used first by in US and made popular when US Presidents could not go on TV without it. It is also popular with of Prime Ministers of UK . In an interview on her book The Downing Years former PM Thatcher mentioned the AUTOCUE..
" LAMB: You talk about one of your trips to the States when you addressed the Congress, and that you were up until 4 o'clock in the morning working with what you call in Britain an Autocue -- we call it a TelePrompter -- working on your speech. And you were on an early-morning television show.
THATCHER: About half past 6, yes.
LAMB: How did you do that? How do you do that and stay clear-headed?
THATCHER: I did it because it had to be done. Whatever has to be done, you somehow find the energy to do. To address Congress was the biggest thing that had happened to me, and I knew that Ronald Reagan, when he did it, was absolutely superb, a real professional, and he used the Autocue, or TelePrompter. It is so much better to use it; otherwise you are looking down at your notes. If you've got a TelePrompter, then you are looking up and you may go from one TelePrompter to another, but your eyes never leave the audience. I wasn't as skilled at it as he was so I had to practice, and, in fact, we borrowed his Autocue. But I arrived from the VC10 quite late at the embassy, and they had set up the Autocue. .."

There are different types depending on the usage. I believe the device above was brought into the studios at Caldecott Hill in the late 70s following a trip to the White House.....

Please share your experience if you know about this equipment Auto or Telepromter..

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A British soldier came to Caldecott Hill

On 8th Dec 1941 war was declared on Malaya and Singapore. Lance Corporal Eric Wallwork 2nd Battalion of the Loyal Regiment was taken prisoner. Here is an extract from his diary....
.. "On the 3rd May the orders were received from the Japanese that another working party had to go down into Singapore on the 4th, the strength of this party being 1700 and included the majority of the Loyals. Reveille on the 5th was 05-00 hours and at 07-15 hours the party set off from Changi to Caldecott Hill Estate by march route, the distance being about 15 miles. This march wasn’t really as hard as one had anticipated. One of the reasons was we had no kit to carry. The march took us till 17-00 hours to complete. During the march nothing of importance occurred, only we found out who our best friends in Singapore were. On the route they gave the troops bread, ice, and coconuts which were very welcome. I remember one small point whilst marching by some Chinese houses, the door was wide open and someone on a piano was playing for all he was worth “When the Lights of London Shine Again”. Hearing this seemed to encourage one, for it was certainly being played over and over again for our benefit.
The only complaint about this march was, owing to the amount of kit that our officers still had, (after just having come out of a War) a special truck laden with nothing but this kit had to be towed the whole distance by a party of the troops, although in time to come this was just a minor detail. On arrival at Caldecott we were billeted in new modern houses some of which had been slightly damaged by enemy action. It seemed a shame that such houses should be used for such a purpose. These houses were situated around the Malayan Broadcasting Corporation.(Radio Singapore in later years) One peculiar thing was, in the next house to the one we lived civilians were still living there. Danish people they were - husband and wife and two children just carrying on what appeared to be their normal life. After having a day or so to get settled down, working parties were organised, the work being making roads at Bukit Timah golf course leading to a Japanese monument that was being built…….. "
I recommend you read his interesting diary on the defence of title

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How did Caldecott Hill get its name?

In honour of Sir Andrew Caldecott, Governor of Hongkong in 1935.

"Sir Andrew Caldecott, born October 26th, 1884 in Kent. Caldecott had been a lifelong civil servant in the Malayan Civil Service, having risen up in the ranks since 1907 from working in the Labor Department to becoming the Officer Administering the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Malay States in 1934. He was famous for being able to ease the often tense race relations between the Chinese and Malays, which probably explained a good deal of his upward career mobility. As one can see in Malaysia and Singapore, race considerations still play a fundamental role in government policymaking today.He apparently made a point of taking up office here in Hong Kong in civilian clothes, the only other one to do so being Sir Christopher Patten in 1992. Unfortunately, because of an insurgency in Ceylon in 1937 that led to his reassignment there, Hong Kong was deprived of his services after less than two years, making his Governorship one of the shortest in history (that's why the only thing named after him is a short road on the way out to Tai Po). But even this short tenure was eventful - during this period, Hong Kong received its first schedule airplane service; the Queen Mary Hospital was inaugurated as an adjunct to the University of Hong Kong; and the Sino-Japanese War broke out in May 1937, causing a flood of over 100,000 refugees into the Colony. Caldecott at this point was forced to leave to take care of an even greater emergency; his replacement was Sir Jeffery Northcote. His legacy though, was a policy riddled with inconsistencies as to the treatment of the China-Japan question. Britain's position was neutrality, but it was becoming increasingly obvious that the Japanese certainly would not rule out harm towards British interests. Nevertheless, it was under Caldecott and later Northcote's administrations that Chinese demonstrating against Japanese aggression in China would be rounded up and arrested, in response to the voluble protests of the Japanese Consul. This policy strained relations between Britain and Nationalist China, and probably dented what small hope there was of Chinese relief during the Japanese attack on Hong Kong in December 1941.Caldecott died in July 1951. "
--story posted by Dave and Stefan on internet blog.

..In Singapore Caldecott Hill, Caldecott Close and Andrew Road were named after him. Olive Road was named after his first wife.............

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Moving Out of Caldecott Hill

Deision is made ...the time has come ..

MediaCorp will move to a new premise in 2011. A modern complex will be built at Bukit Batok to house all TV, radio and print operations and related support services . Caldecott Hill has been a home to MediaCorp since 1935 when the first radio station began operations. While many staff hold fond memories about the place, the move to Bukit Batok is seen as essential to keep pace with the new businesses and development of media technology. The new complex estimated to cost $300m will integrate all the other businesses such as TV12 which is along Prince Edward Road, MediaCorp's magazine publishing in Ang Mo Kio and the TODAY office at Raffles Place………..exciting times for those involve in moving the house..share with us your memories before you leave... email:


I love the Nagra

The Nagra sound recorder.. a well-engineered and high quality piece of equipment used for news and outdoor recording sound by RTS reporters. Its ruggedness and reliability made this the de-factor portable sound recorder from 1960 -1990. The programme-makers and engineer loved this piece. This was the equipment the late Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin used when she was a radio journalist covering the early general elections...and also the coverage of events in London as member of the team following the Prime Minister( (She later became the General Manager of SBC). Though heavy weighing about 15 kg, crew members carried with them whenever on their rounds. Nowadays this is replaced by much lighter palm size digital recorder . Using SD memory present day portable digital sound recorder (see below)can record for many hours depending on size of memory......

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Seah Hong Gim remembers

Hong Gim sends in this picture with the Crescendos - a popular singing group in the 60s (Susan disappeared while swimming in Malaysia beach). He was a cameraman then and used to cover variety shows in in the black and white TV studios. Hong Gim advanced in his career to technical producer and principal lighting designer. He has retired from the company and now a widely-sough-after lighting designer for the media industry in the region.
The bottom picture shows a group in the studio celebrating Christmas - taken more than 45 years ago. Please email me if are in the picture..tell us what you were doing then.... (email: or register at

Hong Gim contact is

Hello 84/Farewell 83

SBC bade 1983 'goodbye' in style with this spectacular outdoor show at City Hall steps on New Year's Eve.

It took 9 months of preparation and planning and more than 160 staff to produce this TV extravanza 'live' in

front of 70,000. It was an fitting way to round off an exciting and eventful 1983. Looking back I am proud to be associated with this of the excellent few variety shows that the company has produced over the years....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Videotape Machine

In the 60s videotape machine for recording b/w tv from studios were a hugh thing. All machines were centralised and studios had to call the VTR area for connection to record shows on 2 inch tape. Now the machines are much smaller and decentralised with individual studios have their own machines. With the current technology of hard disks and file- based system recordings are going back to centralised operations wtih imroved effectiveness and efficiency. The picture is contributed by L T Seet who was a young technical officer then....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

what happened to the cat?

The Banyan Tree situated in the Old Broadcasting House side of Caldecott hill was used as a backdrop for many Chinese and Indian dramas.Many stories were told about this tree. Here is one... One day a cat that was used for filming at the Street Scene was missing. After an intensive search the crew found the culprit a python (see below) under the Banyan Tree see insert. A member of the crew contributed this picture. Please share if you have other stories.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where were you..what were you doing during...

1930s - the first broadcasting stationby the British Malayan Broadccasting Corp was set up on Caldecott hill

1940s - Singapore Government took over the station..the Japanese occupation operating as "Syonan
Hoso Kyoku"

1950s - Radio Singapore came about..Laying of foundation stone for Broadcasting House by the then Governor and Commandant-in-Chief ..

1960s - Radio started oommercial advertising, Black and white TV commenced on 15 Feb 1963, Radio and TV Singapore RTS organised, Formation of Malaysia and separatio, second TV channel, Opening of new TV centre on 26 Aug 1966 by PM Lee Kuan Yew

1970s - Opening of first satellite earth station, first overseas programme via satellite World Cup Holland vs Germany..Introduction of colour television in Aug 1974

1980s /90s - Singapore Broadcasting Corporation SBC formed to take over the functions of Department of Broadcasting (RTS), launched of Radio 5 , introduction of Video Dubbing , teletext on Ch5 and 8.. .. Introduction of Chinese Drama... Electronic News Gathering equipment introduced, first live night NDP at the stadium ...reorganisation of SBC into News and Current Affairs, Radio, Entertainment Productions, Engineering services. O & M unit set up to streamline operations...Friday Background a quarterly current affairs programme started, people meter by AC Nielsen appeared in homes for viewers response.......Chinese drama production the Army Series produced on film ..access of CNN channel on the Gulf war..3rd TV Channel TV 12 launched....

Early 2000s - reorganisation and privatisation of SBC into a number of companies including TCS under a holding company Singapore International Media...and later on Media Corp... the rise and dawn of free to air TV competition....