(CMR) The Jamaica Broadcasting Commission issued a Directive on Tuesday requiring broadcasters to take immediate steps to prevent the transmission of any recorded material that promotes or glorifies illegal activities such as scamming, drug use, or gun violence.
Under the Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations, the Commission now requires an immediate halt to the transmission of any audio or video recording, live song, or speech that promotes and/or glorifies scamming. Music promoting the illegal use or abuse of drugs such as ‘Molly’, illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, “jungle justice,” or any other form of illegal or criminal activity should not receive airplay.
The Commission also ordered that 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 not be played. 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 Directive reinforces its commitment to keeping the airwaves free of harmful content, given the important role traditional media still play as agents of socialization. It pointed out that the use of 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.
It could also unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalize criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth and the young adult demographic, the Commission stated in a press release on Tuesday.
Commenting on the Directive, Executive Director of the Commission, 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-à-vis protection from harm, and consultations with Industry.
Mr. Green went on to explain 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 normalized 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,” Mr. Green said.
The Executive Director also said that while content regulation must always have regard for the right to freedom of expression, any context in which criminality is presented through music or videos as normal behavior conflicts with the tenets of responsible broadcasting.
The Broadcasting Commission is the regulatory body that is responsible for monitoring radio, television, and cable services in Jamaica. It receives and investigates complaints from the public in relation to these services.