Photo: Getty
  /  10.16.2022

The Jamaican Broadcasting Commission is cracking down on media deemed too violent for television and radio airwaves. On Tuesday (Oct. 11), the commission issued a ban on broadcasts and music that glorify criminal activity, drug use, scamming, and weapons.

Commission Chairman Lloyd Waller said using public airwaves for overtly violent content “could give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.”

He added, “It could also unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalize criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth, and the young adult demographic.” The ban does not apply to digital platforms.

The directive outlines that recordings with lyrics that promote or reference the criminal activity of scamming — through the use of urban slang and phrases, including variations of chop the line, choppa phone, burner phone, client, and others — are strictly prohibited.

The directive went into effect immediately, sparking mixed reactions.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Jamaican musician and entertainment executive Romeich wrote, “While I understand why people feel like this and even I don’t agree with glorifying guns or any use of any drug at all, we can’t stop the creatives (artistes) from singing about what they see around them or grew around.”

Art imitates life, and the music is coming from what is happening in Jamaica for real, but because it doesn’t fit the moral mould of what they would like it to look like, they try to hamper it,” Stephen McGregor, a Jamaican Grammy award-winning music producer and singer, told The Guardian.

In a digital op-ed published by the Jamaica Observer, Reggae artist Tanya Stephens wrote, “Every single time there is great pressure to curb crime or anti-social behavior some of these very same unchanging heads meet again and roll out the same archaic ban as a ‘measure.'” In February 2009, the Commission attempted to ban music it deemed too sexually explicit.

Check out how Romeich and others responded to the latest efforts to censor media content in Jamaica below. 

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