The Thai ambassador in Australia condemned comedy television program “Have you been paying attention?” over its segment referring to Thailand aired on Oct. 18.
A letter from Ambassador Chirachai Punkrasin was sent out to Network 10, a television channel based in Sydney, with a request to remove the “disrespectful” segment from their future broadcasts and social media.
“I find that mocking people who are feeling intense grief at the passing of their monarch to be very inappropriate, disrespectful, and certainly not amusing,” Chirachai’s statement said.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, “Have you been paying attention?” is a weekly show that challenges Australian comedians and entertainers to answer questions about the events of the week.
No details of the segment have been reported as footage of the Oct. 18 broadcast have been removed from social media. Local media Kapook ran a screenshot of the program, which was said to show a video of a Thai woman mourning for the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The ambassador wrote: “While it may not be the intention of Network 10 to cause offense, the program needs to show greater cultural sensitivity and media professionalism when it deals with a topic that makes reference to another country, institution or culture.”
“I count on your understanding and your cooperation in removing the inappropriate segment on Thailand in the above-mentioned program from your future diffusion program as well as other social media channels.”
The producers of the show apologized in a tweet last night, adding it would remove the offensive segment in repeat episodes.
“It seems that comments made on #HYBPA have offended some of our Thai-Australian friends. We’ll be giving them a miss on the repeats.”
UPDATE: A Network 10 spokesperson sent Coconuts a statement regarding the controversy:
“Network Ten recognizes that this is a time of deep sorrow for Thai people following the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and sincerely apologizes for the comments made on the program.
“In no way was any disrespect intended and we sincerely regret any distress caused. We have written to the Ambassador of Thailand in Canberra and the Consul-General of Thailand, Sydney to inform them that the video has been taken down from Ten’s website and other social channels, and will be edited to remove this segment, prior to the episode being broadcast or made available again.”