CUT down on the commercially sponsored programmes and increase the number of shows for the elderly and the young.
These were some of the recommendations on Chinese television programming by the Advisory Committee for Chinese Programmes (Access).
Formed in 1994 to provide feedback on the quality of shows on the free-to-air television channels and radio stations, Access released its biennial report for the period July 2006 to June this year on Monday.
The group, comprising 21 members from all walks of life, said there was a lack of programmes for the elderly and that the frequent changes in broadcast timings of traditional operas on Channel 8 were disruptive.
For its report, Access held dialogues with independent production houses, newspapers editors, social workers and students to understand the industry and provide a broader cross-sampling of views from the public.
Said the committee chairman Associate Professor Lee Cheuk Yin: 'In fostering a more vibrant local Chinese broadcasting scene, the broadcasters could outsource more programmes to independent production houses, introducing more creative ideas and greater variety of programmes.
'To cater to the needs of viewers, especially children and senior citizens, for which there is a lack of programme choices, broadcasters should also take the initiative to find out more from the target audience about their interests.'
He added that given the impact of mass media on the community, broadcasters should constantly review and raise the quality of their content to stay relevant to changing audience expectations.
'This is even more pertinent as viewers today are increasingly exposed to more foreign content that is widely available across new digital platforms,' he said.
The committee suggested limiting sponsored and commercialised variety programmes, especially those by beauty salons and slimming centres so that viewers would not be inundated with excessive advertising and sales messages.
'Such sponsored programmes should be more objective in treatment if they are presented as factual programmes. Otherwise, they should be labeled as infomercials and be aired at appropriate timings,' it added.
On drama serials, it said they should not capitalise on inappropriate themes, such as teenage delinquency, extra-marital affairs and violence, to gain more viewership.
The Committee also urged the use of proper Mandarin in the dramas by minimising the use of Singlish, as well as colloquial and adulterated Mandarin.
On areas for improvement, Access recommended that there should be adequate coverage of both local and international news in all news bulletins.
But the committee also highlighted the positive moves by broadcasters, which included a wide range of locally produced programmes offered by
Channel 8 and Channel U, and the current affairs programmes giving advice on issues ranging from legal and entrepreneurial matters, to water conservation and financial investment guides.