Colors Rishtey UK has been rapped by Ofcom for broadcasting an episode of Gujarati cookery programme ‘Rasoi Show’ in August 2020, which was pulled up for “potentially racially offensive language.”
Ofcom received a complaint about the repeated use of the phrase “ching chong” when describing a dish on the programme, and the complainant considered the phrase had been said in a “mock Chinese accent”.
Viacom 18 said that Colors Rishtey as a channel “presents culturally diverse content” and “showcases multicultural diversity of the Indian society” through its various programmes. The Licensee said that ‘Rasoi Show’ is one such programme that “highlights diversity”. It added that ‘Rasoi Show’ is a regional cookery show and that amateur cooks from across the Indian state of Gujarat are invited in to “display their home-made recipes”. The Licensee said that the guests are “typically local food enthusiasts and homemakers” and “showcase not just Indian cuisine, but fusion food from all over the world”.
Viacom 18 said that it believed that the term was “in no way” implied as a slur or could be seen as pejorative “towards any race”. Instead, it argued that the gestures made by the presenter and the guest, and their conversation, had “an extremely positive tone” and that this “highlighted their fondness for Chinese cuisine and its popularity in India”. It further added that the name of the dish was “playing on sing song words” and that it was intended to be complimentary towards Chinese cuisine. Viacom 18 said that “at no point” did the presenter or the guest “vilify or demean Chinese people through intent or actions”.
Ofcom considered that there was insufficient context to justify the inclusion of the racially derogatory term “ching chong” in the programme. We took into account that the Licensee has “halted the airing of this episode until further notice” and its assurances in response to Ofcom’s Preliminary View that it would be “more vigilant” to potentially offensive comments in the future. However, Ofcom’s Decision is that the broadcast of this material exceeded generally accepted standards and, therefore, the programme was in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.