Singapore, 7 July 2003 - Singapore's SARS Channel will cease transmission after 9 July 2003 midnight, as all countries have been taken off the World Health Organisation's (WHO) list of areas with recent cases of local transmission of SARS.
The SARS Channel is a joint public service effort of StarHub Pte Ltd, Media Corporation of Singapore and Singapore Press Holdings, to inform and educate the public on SARS. It was officially launched by Mr Wong Kan Seng, Minister for Home Affairs and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on SARS, on 21 May 2003 evening. About a million viewers* have tuned in to the channel since its launch.
"This is one of those rare occasions when we are pleased to shut down a TV Channel early because we have achieved in a very short time what we set out to do. MediaCorp, StarHub and SPH welcome this opportunity to collaborate on this community project. We hope we have in some small ways contributed to the national effort in combating and overcoming SARS in double quick time," said chiefs of the three local media companies - Mr. Terry Clontz, President and CEO of StarHub, Mr. Ernest Wong, Group CEO of MediaCorp and Mr. Alan Chan, CEO of SPH.
In response, Mr. Lim Hock Chuan, CEO of Media Development Authority, said, "The SARS crisis made it critical for us to reach a maximum number of people and the SARS Channel helped us to do this in an effective way. The three companies pooled their resources, set up the channel at short notice and sustained it with programmes dedicated to a critical public issue. This provided invaluable experience in setting up a public service channel at short notice. I commend the three companies for their close co-operation in creating and operating the SARS Channel. It was a momentous effort."
Singapore was taken off the WHO's list of areas with local SARS transmission on 31 May 2003, and there has been no new probable cases of SARS since then. As the threat of SARS and public interest in the disease are now greatly diminished, there is no longer a need to have a dedicated channel on SARS.
The SARS channel has contributed tremendously to the local public awareness of SARS by airing educational and informative programmes, messages and updates on SARS and other health matters. All SARS-related programmes that have been aired on MediaCorp TV and SPH MediaWorks channels are rebroadcast on the SARS Channel. SARS-related programmes from selected StarHub CableTV's foreign channel partners, as well as programmes from other well-known international channels, are also being aired.
The SARS Channel is presently occupying the frequency of StarHub CableTV's Preview Channel, which is a non-encrypted channel that can be accessed by all households with cable points, whether they are subscribers or non-subscribers of StarHub CableTV. From 10 July 2003, the Preview Channel will resume its broadcast.
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*According to Nielsen Media Research, Total Population Aged Four and Above