The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica has imposed an immediate ban on the playing of music that, among other things, promotes or glorifies lottery scamming, the use of the illicit drug Molly, and illegal guns.
The commission says 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.
In a statement released by the commission, it says 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, the regulator noted.
The commission is also asserting that it could unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalise criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth, and the young adult demographic.
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-a-vis protection from harm, and consultations with Industry.
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 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.”
In 2021, Jamaica, with a population of approximately 2.961 million people, reported 1,463 murders. A high percentage of that was gang related.
However, there is some debate from this in the music industry as whether or not their lyrical content has anything to do with the high murder, and putting the blame squarely at the feet of the government.
Sadly, at Visionary Arts, we feel there is a link between some popular culture and what young people imitate, and this is where change can be made.