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Avellon Williams 

JAMAICA- Content that glorifies illegal activity – such as drugs and guns – has been banned by Jamaica’s broadcast authority.

/Image, YT/

It specifies specific topics that are forbidden on TV, radio, and online, including music.

A person cannot “promote” scamming, drug abuse, and unlawful firearm possession – and swearing or a near-sounding replacement cannot be used.

Artists have, however, expressed concern about the strictness of the ban, arguing that music reveals the essence of our lives.

/Image, WKRG/

The incident comes at a time when violence is on the rise in Jamaica – the island nation had the highest murder rate in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021.

In its statement, the broadcasting agency warns that public broadcasting of songs glorifying illegal activity could lead people to think “criminality is an accepted part of Jamaican culture and society“.

As a result of the new law, all forms of “illegal or criminal activity” are now prohibited and station operators are required to follow the rules immediately.

There was also concern that offending content could normalize criminal behavior among young adults and youths who are “vulnerable and impressionable”.

There have been criticisms of the move, however, from some Jamaican musicians.

Romeich /Image, UI/

Romeich, a local music manager and producer in an Instagram post said, “We can’t stop the creatives (artists) from singing about what they see around them or grew around.” 

Continuing, he asked if “Jamaica is the only country with children? Because these same songs are heard elsewhere too”.

Stephen McGregor ‘Di Genius’ /Image, TT/

On Twitter, Grammy-winning producer and singer, Stephen McGregor, known as “Di Genius,” expressed frustration.

Yay! Crime and violence gonna magically stop now,” he wrote sarcastically, before pointing out that young people listen to music over the internet more often than through the radio.

“[In my opinion] the move is more of a ‘look we’re doing something’ more than actually trying to do something,” said Mr.McGregor.

/Image, SSS/

It is not the first time that some music has been banned in Jamaica. In 2009, the fact that “daggering”- a type of sexually-suggestive dancing- gained popularity led to the ban of music which promotes sex, violence, murder, or arson.

According to the broadcasting commission’s statement, while freedom of expression was required, content that promoted criminal activity was contrary to the “tenets of responsible broadcasting“.

Is there a likelihood that other Caribbean countries will follow suit?

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Avellon Williams

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