MDA fines MediaCorp $6,300 after DJ uses offensive word on visually-impaired woman

Cassandra and Esme the guide dog walking to her office. Since she got Esme, Cassandra is free to walk at her naturally brisk pace, unlike when she was using a white cane to navigate herself.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) on Wednesday fined state broadcaster MediaCorp $6,300 after one of its deejays used an offensive word on-air against a visually-impaired woman.

On 20 March this year, Class95FM DJ Joe Augustin of the Morning Express, who was hosting the daily show with colleague Glenn Ong, used the word “a-hole” to describe Cassandra Chiu, a visually-impaired woman best known for owning Esme, the guide dog.

Two days prior, Chiu told Yahoo Singapore she was denied service at a McDonald’s outlet in Jurong on the pretext of it being too busy due to National Breakfast Day, after which she took to Facebook to voice her displeasure from the encounter.

According to a report by The New Paper, Augustin and Ong got into a heated discussion on-air over the incident, with Augustin calling Chiu an “a-hole” for complaining, saying that she constantly posts “inflammatory remarks” that visually-impaired people were being discriminated against and denied McMuffins at McDonald’s. Responding to that, Ong reportedly retorted that Augustin was an “a**hole” for using the word on Chiu.

Augustin and Ong reprised the incident on the next day’s “Morning Express” show by holding an on-air straw poll on the appropriateness of using the term, and Augustin uttered the word again.

Yahoo Singapore understands that the MDA was notified of the words being used on-air by a listener who wrote in to express concern over the matter, as well as Chiu herself.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the MDA said that its investigation showed that the use of the term “a-hole” contravenes the Free-to-air Radio Programme Code, and imposed a fine for the breach.

“Because of its impact, programmes over radio must at all times maintain a standard that is acceptable to the community and does not offend good taste or decency,” the statement said.