Mediacorp fined $5,500 for racially insensitive content

Mediacorp breached the code on an episode of Toggle's I Want To Be A Star.
Mediacorp breached the code on an episode of Toggle's I Want To Be A Star. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TOGGLE

Mediacorp has been fined $5,500 for racially insensitive content on its streaming service Toggle, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said yesterday.

IMDA said it imposed the penalty on Mediacorp for breaching the Video-On-Demand Programme Code, which came in an episode of Toggle's Chinese-language Web drama series, I Want To Be A Star.

In the drama, first aired on Sept 5 last year, veteran actor Chew Chor Meng's character says that Indians and Africans are the same.

He also says it would make no difference casting an Indian as an African in a TV production. His son in the series, played by Shane Pow, appears wearing an Afro wig and dons "blackface", or black make-up.

IMDA said the segment was "racially insensitive and constituted racial stereotyping that might offend certain segments of the community". It noted that Mediacorp promptly removed the offensive segment from the episode and "has taken remedial action to prevent a recurrence".

Netizens reacted to the episode with anger and disbelief, and Toggle removed it, posting an apology on its official Twitter page.

Mr Anil Nihalani, who heads Toggle, told The Straits Times (ST) in October last year: "We're sorry for the blackface portrayal. We take race-related issues very seriously and that portrayal should not have happened. We've removed the offensive scenes from the programme and will ensure something like that doesn't happen again."

A Mediacorp spokesman told ST yesterday: "We respect the decision and accept the penalty."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2017, with the headline 'Mediacorp fined $5,500 for racially insensitive content'. Print Edition | Subscribe