Media freelancers to get better protection in contracts and payment

New tripartite standard for media industry

Freelancers who work in the media - writers, photographers, designers, games developers and others - will receive more protection in matters of contract, payments and insurance.

The measures will be effective from April 1 next year.

This was announced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Asia TV Forum and Market/ScreenSingapore yesterday at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.

The creation of the measures, called the Tripartite Standard on the Procurement of Services from Media Freelancers, was announced in March this year.

"To develop our media industry, we must first develop and look after our media talents, including freelancers in our industry," said Mr Chee.

From April 1 next year, companies must adopt the Tripartite Standard to qualify for grants from the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and funding for Public Service Broadcast content. It is understood that these grants are a major source of support for media companies in Singapore producing content for films, television and the games industry.

Major producers such as Mediacorp and HBO Asia have pledged to support the new measures.

The new standards aim to promote fair and progressive workplaces for freelancers, said an IMDA statement. In 2015, the media sector workforce consisted of 83,600 employees.

According to a 2015 study by the Ministry of Communications and Information, that number grows by 50 per cent when freelancers are added.

The standards were jointly developed by IMDA, Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress, Singapore National Employers Federation and supported by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices.

They target the four areas of written contracts, timely payment, dispute resolution and insurance.

Under the contracts rules, for example, companies have to provide written contracts that state deliverables, ownership of intellectual property and payment milestones. If disputes arise, parties can go through a mediation process.

Those interested in adopting the new standard can go to the website

Film-maker Jasmine Ng, 45, has faced employers who have failed to pay on time. Her woes are common ones, she said.

Ms Ng is co-president of the Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals, a newly formed group including film-makers such as Anthony Chen, Boo Junfeng and Kirsten Tan. The group aims to increase skills levels and professionalism in the film industry.

She was among the freelancers consulted in the creation of the new rules.

These standards are "definitely progress in the right direction," she said. "They provide protections for both the companies and the freelancers, and then media workers can just focus on creating better work."