Choppa, Molly and gun songs banned

October 12, 2022

Despite backlash from members of the music fraternity, Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Professor Lloyd Waller, is adamant that the promotion of particular lifestyles through music has a negative impact on the population.

Waller was defending the commission's immediate ban that has been imposed on the playing of music that promotes or glorifies lottery scamming, the use of the illicit drug Molly, and illegal guns.

"It is an alarming concern and it's not just us, but many other agencies across Government and even the private sector have all signalled a concern about the increasing violence and crime. We see where a lot of music seems to be promoting a particular type of lifestyle, and based on the utterances and feedback while doing our consultations, we have decided that it would be prudent to do all of what we have been doing to monitor these things if we believe that it will have a negative impact on the rest of the population, and it is unquestionable that it does play a role," Waller told THE STAR.

The commission, through a press release, yesterday stated that 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 commission said this could also unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalise criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth, and the young adult demographic. Waller said that a series of indicators will be used to gauge whether the directives had the desired effect.

"We have data from some studies that were done and we will be doing consultations within a year to determine to what extent did the decrease in the popularity and normalisation of these kinds of songs on air have contributed to a decrease in criminal and violent activities," he said.

A risk assessment study carried out by the National Council on Drug Abuse in May, in 13 parishes and in high schools among 160 students in grades eight to 10, found that Molly is said to be enhanced by entertainers whose songs describe its uses and effects. Waller, however, stated that the commission is not picking on that particular drug.

"Molly is just a part of the overall package. There are other types of drugs out there on the market since COVID so we are not going to focus on just any one but all the illegal substances. The law already states clearly what is legal and what is illegal so all we are doing is enforcing the law," Waller said.

Little over a decade ago, there was the introduction of the daggering segment in dances where partygoers tried to replicate the aggressive sexual moves in the bedroom. As a result, a ban was placed on sexually violent songs. Waller opined that that ban was successful.

"If you would notice those themes where they would dagger in the trees and in the barrel, they started to decrease. When was the last time you would have seen one of those daggering videos shared? We don't even hear the word any more," he said.

The Broadcasting Commission's directive prohibits:

* Any audio or video recording, live song or speech, which promotes and/or glorifies scamming, illegal use or abuse of drugs (e.g. 'Molly'), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, "jungle justice" or any other form of illegal or criminal activity.

* Any edited song which directly or indirectly promotes scamming, illegal drugs, illegal or harmful use of guns 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 near-sounding words as substitutes for offensive lyrics, expletives, or profanities.

* The broadcast of a sampling of any song which promotes or glorifies scamming, illegal drugs (e.g. 'Molly'), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, "jungle justice" or any other form of illegal or criminal behaviour is strictly prohibited.

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