MediaCorp fined $6,300 after DJ refers to blind woman with derogatory word

SINGAPORE - The Media Development Authority (MDA) has fined MediaCorp $6,300 for breaching the Free-to-air Radio Programme Code.

MDA said in a statement: "As a free-to-air radio broadcaster, MediaCorp is expected to observe the requirements laid out in the Free-to- air Radio Programme Code which seeks to protect community interests by ensuring broadcast programming do not offend good taste or decency."

The authority said that the incident occurred on March 20, when a deejay on the Class 95 'Morning Express' programme used a derogatory term to describe a visually-impaired woman who said she was denied service at a fast food outlet.

The same term was again used on air the following day by the same deejay.

On Mar 21, The New Paper reported that DJ Joe Augustin used the word "a-hole" to describe the visually-impaired person.

His fellow DJ Glenn Ong then called him an "a** hole" for using that word, the paper reported.

Upon investigation, MDA concluded the use of the derogatory term has contravened the Free-to-air Radio Programme Code, which states that "obscene or offensive jokes, words, songs dialogue should not be broadcast".

An MDA spokesperson said: "Radio exerts a strong influence on the community. In Singapore, as a media platform for entertainment, information and education, radio broadcast reaches almost all homes and is easily accessible to all people, including the young. 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."

 Here is MediaCorp's statement in response to the MDA media statment dated May 14:

On March 20 and 21, Class 95FM's "Morning Express" radio deejays Joe Augustin and Glenn Ong referred to a Facebook page of a visually impaired woman who was refused service at a fast food outlet.

While discussing the matter, both deejays used inappropriate words that were deemed to have breached the FTA Radio Programme Code and the Media Development Authority imposed a financial penalty of $6,300.

Ms Georgina Chang, MediaCorp VP English Programming, Radio, said, "We absolutely do not condone the use of unacceptable language, and there is a strict internal process to address it. Joe recognises his lapse in judgement and he has apologised unreservedly on air. Radio is a passionate and emotional medium, and sometimes in aiming to engage and entertain our listeners live, DJs make mistakes in the manner in which they express themselves. We seek your understanding that it is never of ill intent."

Mr Joe Augustin, Class 95FM DJ said, "In trying to hold up a mirror to society and keeping our programme edgy, I feel I may have crossed the very same lines I've called out others on for crossing. And so, to those who I have offended by my choice of words on this occasion, I sincerely apologise. And I promise you that I will do better in future."