Government Senator Charles Sinclair
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Government Senator Charles Sinclair has come out in support of the Broadcasting Commission for its decision to ban the broadcast of music glorifying illegal activities on the radio, while slamming artists for promoting a such content.
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Sinclair, who weighed in on the ongoing debate over the commission’s decision earlier this month, argued that “musical content can influence the impressionable mind.”
He was speaking on Friday as he made his contribution to the State of the Nation debate in the Senate.
“I commend the Broadcasting Commission for its recent directive restricting the broadcast of music that glorifies violence, guns and drug use on radio and television,” Sinclair said.
According to him, “those who are in the creative arts have to be creative in a real way”.
“Their story claiming the right to free speech should be moderated to read ‘the right to responsible free speech.’ Freedom and rights are never absolute, but are limited by limits of correctness, fairness, rights of others and liability,” the senator added.
Sinclair further argued that musical performances that state “‘kill the witness before he goes to court’ (a line from a popular song by a popular and indeed talented artist) are uncreative”.
He said the fact that the Evidence Amendment Act provides that the written statement of a deceased witness is admissible at trial “makes such a statement senseless”.
Sinclair pointed out that the Commission’s directive and Section 18(A) of the Evidence Amendment Act are neutral and make no specific reference to any genre of music. “So it can’t be said that the government, in its generic sense, or the Broadcasting Commission is targeting dancehall music,” he said.
The commission has drawn ire from some artists after issuing a directive requiring broadcasters to immediately prevent the transmission of any recorded material that promotes and/or glorifies illegal activity.
The prohibition covers the transmission of:
● any audio or video recording, live song or speech that encourages and/or glorifies cheating, illegal use or abuse of drugs (eg Molly), illegal or harmful use of firearms or other offensive weapons, “jungle justice” or any other form of illegal or criminal activity;
● any edited song that directly or indirectly promotes cheating, illegal drugs, illegal or harmful use of firearms 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 nearby words as substitutes for offensive lyrics, profanity or profanity.
Sinclair also noted that this is not the first time the commission has taken such a position.
“I encourage them to be vigilant in effectively monitoring and enforcing the directive. They must continue the dialogue with all stakeholders, licensees, producers, artists, music content providers in promoting the objective of the guidelines,” he advised.
He said he took note of the refusal of a few individuals in the music industry.
“Some are known by their own expressions to be politically aligned. It should be clear that the position on own content is not and cannot be a political issue. It is not JLP versus PNP or Government versus Opposition. All well-meaning people should be united. We can’t go on like we’ve been doing,” Sinclair said.
He said the government made it “quite clear on National Heroes Day (October 17) 2022, its recognition of dancehall music when the artist, Jeffery Campbell, better known as Agent Sasco, received a national award for his positive influence on youth through music.