The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has slapped a fine of Sg$5,500 ($3,900) on Singapore's national broadcaster Mediacorp for airing racist content. In an episode of its Chinese language web-only series 'I Want To Be A Star,' an episode featured a Chinese actor with black face makeup that caused an outrage online.
A statement from IMDA read, "An episode of Toggle's Chinese-language web drama series "I Want To Be A Star", which was first made available for viewing on 5 September 2016, 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. The segment also featured a Chinese male actor with "blackface" makeup role-playing an African."
Singapore is known for its cosmopolitan society and strict laws that provide equality for all its citizens. Though the country implements strict censorship laws for its films, the television industry remains largely conservative. However, after strict assessment regarding the issue, IMDA concluded that the "scenes were racially insensitive and constituted racial stereotyping that might offend certain segments of the community." They also initiated swift action to remove the offended action and further prevent such acts.
An apology note from Mediacorp stated, "The scene has been perceived as being racially insensitive by some viewers, although that was never our intention in the production. We appreciate the feedback and truly apologise to viewers who have been affected by the portrayal. The relevant scenes have now been removed from the programme." However, this didn't go well with the netizens as they felt that it was too casual.
When AFP contacted Mediacorp, the head of its streaming website, Anil Nihalani, immediately apologised for the blackface remark and poor apology note. "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 program and will ensure something like that doesn't happen again," he was quoted saying.