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Mediacorp slapped with fine for black face episode on Toggle

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has imposed a financial penalty of SG$5,500 on Mediacorp for breaching the video-on-demand programme code.

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

For those of you who do not know, an episode of Toggle’s Chinese-language web drama series “I Want To Be A Star” was first made available for viewing on 5 September 2016. Soon after, it came under fire for use of black face makeup on a Chinese actor to portray an individual of African American descent. This occurred on the sixth episode of its original web series.

It carried an offensive remark by one of the characters 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.

This did not go down too well with the Twitteratis who expressed their displeasure about this racist segment. Following the backlash, Toggle removed the video and issued a statement on its Twitter page addressing the matter.

The statement read: “The scene has been perceived as being racially insensitive by some viewers, although that was never our intention in the production.” It said that it appreciates the feedback and truly apologises to viewers who have been affected by the portrayal, adding that the relevant scenes have now been removed from the programme. It also pulled the blackface episode off the website.

However, its official statement was also deemed unacceptable by netizens.

In an exclusive statement to Marketing, Anil Nihalani, head of Toggle, later apologised for the earlier issued statemenet. He said:

“Our apology yesterday came out wrong. We’re sorry for the blackface portrayal and for the poor apology. 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.”

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