SPH Radio fined $7,000 over insensitive comments

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) Radio has been fined $7,000 for breaching the free-to-air radio programme code.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in a statement yesterday that DJs from SPH Radio's Kiss92 radio station had made racially insensitive comments when discussing a study on the sleep patterns among Singaporeans 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.

"While trying to interpret the findings of the study, the DJs made remarks which stereotyped certain races and this offended some listeners," said IMDA.

After investigations, IMDA said, it found the radio programme - Maddy, Jason And Arnold In The Morning - had contravened the free-to-air radio programme code.

It added that as a free-to-air broadcaster, SPH Radio is expected to comply with the 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.

"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 Kiss92's Facebook page after complaints surfaced online about the exchange on the programme hosted by Ms Maddy Barber, Mr Jason Johnson and Mr Arnold Gay.

In the statement, Ms Barber said they did not intend to "hurt or belittle anyone or any race". "Most of us on the show, including me, come from a multiracial 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 as Maddy.

Yuen Sin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'SPH Radio fined $7,000 over insensitive comments'. Print Edition | Subscribe