SPH Radio fined $7,000 for racially insensitive remarks

The Maddy, Jason & Arnold in the Morning programme had contravened the free-to-air radio programme code, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority.
The Maddy, Jason & Arnold in the Morning programme had contravened the free-to-air radio programme code, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings Radio (SPH Radio) has been fined $7,000 for breaching the free-to-air radio programme code after its deejays passed racially insensitive comments when discussing a study on the sleep patterns among Singaporeans.

In a statement on Tuesday (March 21), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said the deejays "made remarks which stereotyped certain races and this offended some listeners" while trying to interpret the findings of the study during a programme on Jan 11.

Conducted by SingHealth Polyclinics on the sleep patterns of Singaporeans, the study showed that six in 10 Chinese participants had enough sleep, compared to about four in 10 Malays and Indians.

The IMDA said that after investigations, it found that the Maddy, Jason & Arnold in the Morning programme had contravened the free-to-air radio programme code. The code states that "racial and religious stereotyping must be avoided".

It added that as a free-to-air broadcaster, SPH Radio is expected to comply with the Free-To-Air Radio Programme Code which seeks to ensure that radio programmes maintain a standard that is acceptable to the community.

"A key obligation under the Code is for broadcasters to avoid racial and religious stereotyping and ensure that content which denigrates or is likely to offend the sensitivities of any racial or religious group in Singapore is not aired," said the IMDA in the statement.

"Given the strong influence radio exerts on the community and its accessibility to all Singaporeans, IMDA would like to remind broadcasters of their obligations under the free-to-air radio programme code."

A statement was posted on Jan 11 on the radio station's Facebook page after complaints about the exchange on the programme had surfaced online.

One of the three deejays - Ms Maddy Barber - said in the Facebook statement that they had not intended to "hurt or belittle anyone or any race".

"Most of us on the show, including me, come from a multi racial family, and a tolerant society has always been what we stand for on the show.

"I can understand how, when parts of what was said are taken out of the full context of the repartee among us DJs, they can be misconstrued to mean something we never intended," added Ms Barber, who signed off the statement and reiterated to listeners that they want to work towards becoming a tolerant and cohesive society.