Johannesburg - M-Net on Saturday responded to questions about a so-called 'double-standard' on the Idols judging panel. It came after the channel made the decision to withdraw it's decision to have Gareth Cliff as a judge on the show.
Gareth made headlines earlier this week after his comments regarding the Penny Sparrow race debate. Calls to boycott Idols were made on social media and in the early hours of this morning, M-Net said that Gareth would no longer be part of the panel.
There was some confusion regarding Gareth being fired, as he had not signed a contract with the channel. However, The Juice understands that none of the judges had signed contracts, and as was protocol over the years, this was only done once auditions started. Both Gareth's team and M-Net have confirmed that he had been asked to do the next season and all was ago for the audition phase of the competition at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, debate over the decision has dominated social media, with some people calling M-Net out for having apparent 'double standards.' Late last year, fellow judge Somizi was also involved in a race debate on social media. He made comments regarding an image that was doing the rounds showing white people wearing the old South African flag. It was later revealed to be an old image.
M-Net has responded to the questions, saying that from now on a zero tolerance policy will be adopted. M-Net CEO, Yolisa Phela said this about the double-standard issue:
Over the last few months following Unathi's indiscretions on social media, we have been in discussions with our judges, presenters and talent to sensitize them to the pitfalls of using social media. Unfortunately we then had to deal with Somizi’s inappropriate comments, and following the latest issue we have now implemented a zero tolerance policy. This policy will apply to everyone associated with our brands going forward. We do not believe that Gareth is a racist, but his response showed a deep lack of empathy for our history and it is important to differentiate between freedom of speech and hate speech. Penny Sparrows comments were hateful. Hate speech is not applicable with regard to freedom of speech.