ABSTRACT

The consumption of professional sport has traditionally been associated in many Western contexts with a very topophilic mode of identifi cation, whereby team allegiance is related to geographic identities and passed on in an intergenerational manner via familial interaction. However, in many of the emerging economies of Asia (such as Singapore), the identifi cation with localized professional sports competitions has been actively marginalized by “the media-enabled aggregation of substantial global (sport) fan bases” (Rowe and Gilmour 2009, p. 171). These Asian fan bases of globally diff used sports commodities like the English Premier League (EPL) and (in English translation) the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup have been described by Giulianotti and Robertson as “self-inventing transnational fans” (2007, p. 177), and their fandom is marked by its link to a very visual form of consumption which, in developing nations in Asia, has been related to a desire to embrace ‘modernity’ and display an engagement with global cosmopolitanism (Gerke 2000, Chua 2003). The aspiration to embrace global commodity signs in many parts of Asia has, in turn, seen the region “become a prime target for the most powerful sports leagues, teams and media conglomerates” (Rowe and Gilmour 2010, p. 1530). For television viewers in the relatively small media market of Singapore, the escalating costs of premium sports rights, a marketcentric regulatory environment, a historically ambivalent attitude to sport, and a tradition of very minimal free-to-air television coverage of sport, has combined to produce a mediascape where televised sport is largely the province of pay-TV platforms. Televised sport in Singapore, then, is both predominantly foreign in origin, and available via subscription television to which only half the population has access (Jenna et al. 2010). Singapore also has little-to-no history of ‘classic’ public broadcasting, and the ‘quasi’-public/free-market broadcasters that dominate viewing in the city-state have traditionally devoted little of their schedules to popular sports content. With no government-endorsed list of protected sports events, sports broadcasting in Singapore has been left to the vagaries of the market, thereby

marginalizing discourses that promote access to live telecasts of sport as a right of cultural citizenship.