Singapore, 11 August 2021 - Mediacorp would like to provide clarifications with regards to a recent radio programme on the BBC World Service on racial harmony in Singapore that contain comments that appear to point to Mediacorp and the Editor-in-Chief of Mediacorp, Walter Fernandez.
On our Editor-in-Chief:
In a segment of the programme, the former correspondent, who recounted her earlier experiences when she worked for an American Financial News Agency that provided currency updates to a local television channel, said that she had “confronted the man who [now] runs the newsroom of that same TV channel, who ironically happens to be Indian Singaporean” on the topic of Indian and Malay presenters, and that he replied that “that viewers didn't like watching darker skinned presenters.”
We would like to clarify that Mr Fernandez did not make such a statement.
With regards to the alleged statement and incident, Mr Fernandez said: “The alleged confrontation that the former BBC correspondent referred to was actually a conversation during a media dinner in November 2018 when we were seated at the same table. To my recollection, I did not reference race or skin colour at all in our conversation. What I did speak about was the number of Singaporeans with relevant skill sets who apply to be presenters, the rigorous selection process which includes written and on-camera tests as well as interviews with several senior editors. I also made the point that I was not part of the interview panel.”
In addition, the former correspondent recounted that she “struggled to get [her] foot in the door at the local news broadcaster” in the 1990s. Mediacorp is unable to comment on what transpired back then without specific details from her.
Mediacorp is committed to equal opportunities and diversity in our workforce – for our on-air and on-camera talents, as well as behind-the-scenes crew and corporate employees. Our hiring policies and practices are based on merit, i.e, having the relevant skill sets that the role requires.
Specifically, CNA, as an Asian news channel serving a global audience, has a diverse group of presenters. Some 30 per cent of CNA news presenters are from minority groups. Of the CNA documentaries, specials and commissioned programmes which feature a presenter over the past two years, 60 per cent were presented by a minority. Across the entire CNA newsroom, including among others, reporters, producers and editors, 40 per cent are from minority groups. This is significantly above the national average.