Digital TV assistance scheme
Infocomm Media Development Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
As Singapore makes the transition to Digital TV (DTV), it was important to ensure that the low income and vulnerable groups were not left behind. Free-to-air TV remains a main source of public service messages and entertainment for all households, and households need to continue to have free access to this information. Households would need to purchase new equipment to receive the DTV channels – an integrated digital TV or DTV set-top box and indoor antenna. Low income households may find it difficult to afford the equipment to make the switch to DTV and would lose their access to TV once the analogue TV channels are switched off.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The transition to DTV requires new equipment to watch the DTV channels. The DTV Assistance Scheme was designed to provide eligible households with a free DTV set-top box, indoor antenna and installation services. The equipment would otherwise cost $90-$120 to purchase from the shops and the households may face difficulties trying to install the equipment themselves.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The DTV Assistance Scheme equips eligible households with the necessary equipment to watch the free-to-air DTV channels to enable their access to public service programmes and national messages. The installers also taught the households how to use the new equipment and new features of DTV, e.g. electronic programme guide, multi-language subtitles. The Scheme targeted the lowest income tier of households: i. [for economically active households] Monthly household income of $1,900 or below or Monthly household income per household member of $600 or below; OR ii. [for households with no income] Residence with Annual Value of $13,000 or below (i.e. most public housing flats). We worked with the Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs) to reach out to the members and beneficiaries to raise awareness of DTV and the Scheme.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
To make it easier for the public to access the Assistance Scheme, IMDA works with the relevant agencies and VWOs to auto-include their existing beneficiaries that meet the eligibility criteria. This means that they do not need to apply for the Scheme, but IMDA will arrange to send them letters informing them of their eligibility and to instruct them to contact the appointed vendor for installation of the equipment. This made it much easier for the households to access the Scheme as they may not bother to apply for it themselves or have trouble filling up the application form.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The DTV Assistance Scheme was implemented by the then Media Development Authority of Singapore, now known as the Infocomm Media Development Authority. Based on the Department of Statistics, an estimated 160,000 households may qualify for the Scheme provided they are not pay TV subscribers. To date, we have reached out to 90,000 auto-included households and another 10,000 households have applied for the Scheme.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The Scheme was thought out and developed by the Digital Broadcasting Deployment Office (DBDO), a project office formed to oversee digital switchover, in the then Media Development Authority. We sought inputs from the Ministry of Communications and Information, and surfaced the proposal at Pre-Cabinet meetings for approval. A request for funding paper was submitted to the Ministry of Finance for funds to roll-out this Scheme. Upon approval, DBDO conducted a tender exercise to appoint a vendor to roll-out the installation of equipment. We also consulted relevant agencies (such as Ministry of Social and Family Development, Housing Development Board, Ministry of Health) and VWOs for obtaining their database of beneficiaries to auto-include in the Scheme, and established secure file transfer links to facilitate the exchange of data and information. DBDO administers the Scheme from the processing of applications to the checks on eligibility to the reimbursement payments to the vendor. The operational team overseeing the daily administration of the Scheme consists of 5 persons and DBDO’s Assistant Director and Director oversee the management of the team. The project team conducts monthly meetings with the vendor to sort out implementation issues, and the vendor submits a weekly progress report for the team’s tracking. DBDO established a dedicated hotline for public inquiries on the Scheme, whilst the appointed vendor had a hotline for installation appointments and technical assistance. We also developed collateral such as posters and brochures to promote the Scheme in community areas such as Community Centres and residents’ notice boards, as well as buying advertisements in the main daily newspapers. We briefed the Senior Activity Centres’ administrators and VWOs on how they can assist their members with the Scheme application or fixing of installation appointment.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The Scheme was thought out and developed by DBDO in the then Media Development Authority. We consulted the Ministry of Communications and Information, and surfaced the proposal at Pre-Cabinet meetings for approval. A paper to request for funding was submitted to the Ministry of Finance for funds to roll-out this Scheme. Upon approval, DBDO conducted a tender exercise to appoint a vendor to roll-out the installation of equipment. DBDO works with relevant agencies such as the Housing Development Board, Ministry of Social and Family, VWOs including Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), Council for the Development of Malay/ Muslim Community (Mendaki) , Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), Sinkh Welfare Council (SIWEC) to obtain the database of eligible beneficiaries to auto-include in the Scheme, and the Central Provident Fund Board and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore to conduct checks on declared income to ensure applicants’ eligibility.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The take up of the Scheme contributes to overall DTV take-up rate – more households are prepared for analogue switch-off. The Senior Activity Centres are outfitted with a free DTV set-top box and antenna, making DTV available in communal areas. The low income households are offered equal access to new technology and are not left behind in the transition to DTV. The elderly and disabled are given opportunities to learn more about DTV and how to prepare for analogue switch-off through briefing sessions, events, workshops.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Letters were sent to around 97,000 auto-included households but only around half of them responded with any follow-up action despite reminder letters and door knocks. DBDO is working with the appointed vendor to conduct a dedicated door knock exercise by estates to address these unresponsive households. An analogue switch-off awareness campaign will be launched this year to highlight the analogue switch-off date and its implications, and issue a call-to-action to eligible households who have yet to apply for the Scheme. A number of households who received the equipment have difficulties remembering how to use the equipment. The vendor handles troubleshooting over the phone and repeat house visits if required. DBDO is also planning for DTV clinics in the Senior Activity Centres this year to provide technical assistance to the seniors.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
To date, more than 50,000 households have received the DTV Assistance Scheme package. These households are prepared for analogue switch-off as they would be able to continue watching the free-to-air TV channels for their news, info-educational and entertainment programmes. This includes government-funded public service programmes with nation-building and social cohesiveness messaging that are important for maintaining racial and social harmony in a multi-racial society. DTV also improved the TV picture quality of low income households that faced difficulty with analogue TV reception so that they are able to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching TV.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Scheme allows low income households to continue to have access to free-to-air TV, which is the main source of government funded public service programmes, news and entertainment. They are able to enjoy national events such as the National Day Rally and sporting events to foster nation-building and social cohesiveness.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The team checks the income eligibility of every application received to ensure that the declared income meets the Scheme’s eligibility criteria. We have formed a secure back-end file transfer link with the Central Provident Fund Board for such seamless exchange of information to facilitate an efficient turnaround process for processing applications. We also accept appeals from households that do not meet the eligibility criteria on a case-by-case basis based on the justifications for needing the Scheme.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Infocomm Media Development Authority
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Keshona Pok
Title:   Assistant Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   keshona_pok@imda.gov.sg  
Address:   3 Fusionopolis Way #16-22 Symbiosis
Postal Code:   138633
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore
Country:  

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