In the mid 1990s, Singapore opened its doors to the international broadcasting community. The past four years in particular have seen steady policy-driven liberalisation of its print, television and multimedia industries. This has jumpstarted the local TV production industry and stimulated terrestrial network competition. While the two terrestrial TV networks compete voraciously for a small, fragmented, multilingual and increasingly sophisticated domestic TV audience, the localisation of international TV game show formats like Millionaire and The Weakest Link appear as attractive solutions to consolidate and build the audience base. TV gameshow formats have become one of the ‘formatting’ strategies that this industry employs to develop ‘local knowledge’ and ‘position’ themselves in the battle for audience ratings and eyeballs. This article will present findings and offer new insight into the impact of TV formats on the local television production, programming and audiences in Singapore. Local television production has begun to examine new avenues for content - everything can be formatted in today’s love-affair with reality TV - even the human tragedy of SARS. Key concepts used include ‘local knowledge’, ‘positioning’ and ‘formatting’
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