Jamaica’s broadcasting regulator has banned music and TV broadcasts that are deemed to glorify or promote criminal activity, violence, drug use, scams and weapons.
The government said the ban is aimed at cutting back on material that “could give the wrong impression that crime is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.”
Jamaican artists criticized the measure, saying it takes the population affected by increased gun violence out of the conversation and it will do little to stop the crime.
“Art imitates life, and the music really comes from what’s happening in Jamaica,” said Stephen McGregor, a Jamaican Grammy Award-winning music producer and singer. “But because it doesn’t fit the moral mold of what they would like it to look like, they try to hinder it.”
The ban comes after years of struggle by the Caribbean nation to end the high level of gun violence that left Jamaica with the highest murder rate in Latin America and the Caribbean last year, according to research center Insight Crime.
Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission said in a release that such music or video on public broadcasts “normalizes crime among vulnerable and impressionable youth”.
The directive also said broadcasters should avoid “urban jargon” related to making money, bank transfers, acquiring wealth or lavish lifestyles. It cited specific words such as: “jungle justice”, “bank/foreign account”, “food”, “wallet”, “wallet”, “burner phone” and “customer”.
But performers like McGregor, known by his stage name Di Genius, said he saw the ban as a matter of freedom of expression, and that the Jamaican government would do better to address the root causes of violence, such as the pandemic-induced economic crisis. crisis.
The broadcasting commission declined to respond to AP’s request for comment on criticism, and did not immediately provide details about the ramifications of a violation. But the commission asked the public to report any alleged violators.
Jamaica has previously enacted such bans, including one in 2009. McGregor, 32, said his own music has been banned from the air throughout his career for making mentions of sex and guns, but said restrictions never really lasted.
Other Jamaican artists such as RVSsian, NotNice and Romeich have all taken to social media and criticized the directive.
Many reported that such a measure would have little practical effect on violence, especially as young people get their media from streaming platforms like Spotify or YouTube.
Rather, according to McGregor, it is a way of scapegoating artists for bigger state bankruptcies to address endemic problems and discontent.
“The music that comes out of that, people aren’t going to make happy, feel good ‘one love, one heart’ music in those circumstances,” McGregor said. “You can’t force the creatives to paint a picture that isn’t really in front of us.”