Mediacorp fined for racially insensitive content in Toggle show

Photo: Toggle screengrab

Mediacorp has been fined $5,500 for offensive content in an episode of an online drama series that featured a “blackface” actor and a racially insensitive remark.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in a statement on Thursday (4 May) that the broadcaster has breached the Video-On-Demand Programme Code for the episode in Toggle’s Chinese-language series “I Want To Be A Star”.

The episode, which was widely condemned by netizens, carried an offensive remark by a character who said that Indians and Africans were the same and that it would make no difference casting an Indian as an African in a TV production.

First made available for viewing on 5 September 2016, the episode featured local actor Shane Pow who was wearing an Afro wig with his face painted black in an attempt to portray an African.

“IMDA assessed that the segment was racially insensitive and constituted racial stereotyping that might offend certain segments of the community. IMDA notes that Mediacorp promptly removed the offensive segment from the Episode and has taken remedial action to prevent a recurrence,” IMDA said.

Toggle apologised for the episode on 26 October 2016, admitting that it was seen as “being racially insensitive by some users”.

“We’re sorry for the blackface portrayal. We take race-related issues very seriously and that portrayal should not have happened,” Anil Nihalani, head of Toggle, told Yahoo News Singapore in response to queries.

We’ve removed the offensive scenes from the programme and will ensure something like that doesn’t happen again,” he said.