Jamaica Broadcasting Commission bans music promoting guns and illegal drugs

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Broadcasting Commission (BC) on Tuesday imposed an immediate ban on the playing of music that it says, among other things, promotes or glorifies lottery scamming, the use of the illicit drug Molly, and illegal guns.

The Commission, whose role is to monitor and regulate electronic media, broadcast radio and television, as well as subscriber television, said that the directive to radio stations reinforces its commitment to keeping airwaves free of harmful content given the important role traditional media still plays as agents of socialisation.

It said that the use of the public airwaves to broadcast songs that promote/glorify illegal activity could give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.

In a statement, the Commission said it could unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalise criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth, and the young adult demographic.

BC executive director, Cordel Green, said it was the end product of a wide-ranging process that included focused monitoring, decoding of subculture dialect and urban slangs, deliberations on balancing free expression vis-a-vis protection from harm, and consultations with Industry.

Green said that this approach was necessary given the nuances and peculiarities inherent in content regulation.

“Part of the difficulty in dealing with music, especially that which emerges from a subculture, is that it takes time to identify, understand and verify the slangs and colloquial language used. Understandably, new street lingua may take some time before they are normalised, or their meanings become well entrenched.

“The Commission also has to be circumspect in its actions, knowing that regulatory attention can have the unintended consequence of giving exposure to and popularising subcultural phenomenon,” said Green.

Under the directive, the Commission has banned “any audio or video recording, live song, or speech which promotes and/or glorifies scamming, illegal use or abuse of drugs (e.g. ‘Molly’), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, “jungle justice” or any other form of illegal or criminal activity”

In addition, the ban extends to “any edited song which directly or indirectly promotes scamming, illegal drugs, illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, jungle justice, or any form of illegal or criminal activity.

“This includes live editing and original edits (e.g. edits by producer/label as well as the use of near-sounding words as substitutes for offensive lyrics, expletives, or profanities”.

The Commission said the broadcast of a sampling of any song which promotes or glorifies scamming, illegal drugs (e.g. ‘Molly’), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, “jungle justice” or any other form of illegal or criminal behaviour is strictly prohibited”. (CMC)

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