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Discontent with airplay for J'can music

Published:Saturday | July 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Danny Browne, chairman of JAMMS.

Arguments in support of introducing a content quota system within the creative industries were made at at the recent International Reggae Day (IRD) conference at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston. Key industry players believe limiting the amount of foreign music being aired on local media is the key to strengthening the country's creative industry.

Speaking at the conference on Wednesday, July 1, chairman of the Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) Danny Browne said that in addition to promoting diversity and boosting the local recording industry, a quota system would go a far way in supporting the development of local culture and national identity.

"As much as 70 per cent of the content on local radio is from abroad, and while I am not against foreign content, I don't believe it should be at the peril of our local music industry," he said. "Countries such as Canada, Australia, France, and Nigeria all have local content quotas and none of these countries has given the world at least three distinct genres of music like Jamaica, yet they have quotas to protect their music."

However, while Browne presented strong arguments and lobbied for local media to get behind the idea of a local content quota, executive director of the Broadcasting Commission Cordell Green was not immediately supportive.

Love for the music

"I am not convinced that by setting a local content quota we will be protecting the music. Jamaica's music shouldn't be mandated," he said. "We should play the music out of respect because we love, respect, and own it and not because there are laws forcing us to."

In the same breath, Green used the platform to speak out against payola, a practice he believes is the root cause of the problems facing the music fraternity. "Payola is the bane of the music industry," Green argued. "It is like a disease and is the reason why there is very little variety in the music being played on local media."

Green also said that there have been talks between his office and the government to criminalise payola, with fines of up to $5 million for persons found guilty of accepting cash rewards to play music.

This is not the first time there has been a call for the implementation of a quota system. In March last year, lawmaker Sophia Frazer-Binns proposed that a quota system would go a far way towards propelling the creative industry, which would have the effect of further contributing to Jamaica's economic growth.

"Local music is not always the first to be played. The fact is that some of our young artistes struggle to have their music played, and if music isn't played, there are no royalties. And if there is no royalty, there is no money," Frazer-Binns said.

She was also in support of anti-payola laws.