Letter of the Day: Hit rogue media houses in their pockets
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The plethora of sexually explicit and violent lyrics that have saturated the airwaves by radio stations open the way to a minefield of possibilities, especially for youths: aggressive sexual behaviour; rebellious and disrespectful interaction with parents and adults; inability to rationally deal with conflicts, just to name a few.
It is an absolute disgrace that we continue to allow broadcasters to use the airwaves to be the vehicle for popular music that encourages violent sexual activity, the debasement of our women, and violence as a display of power and to resolve conflicts.
Some radio station operators may find it a societal norm for this generation to consume lyrics loaded with sexual and violent themes because it is in high demand. Society must reject such a misguided view and stoutly condemn such recklessness.
Free-speech permits radio stations to air creative expression. What broadcasters conveniently fail to understand, however, is that this freedom should not violate or negate the rights of those who choose not to be subjected to music of a sexual or violent nature on radio, especially since radio has no parental controls or rating system like television.
For listeners so inclined to consume lewd music, they have access to the Internet and to personal music players at their disposal. Broadcast radio is made available for the general consumption of all people. This means that broadcasters have a moral and legal duty to ensure that the content aired is appropriately edited and acceptable for the time of day to the widest possible cross section of the community.
Although the Broadcasting Commission imposes a specific period for the airing of more mature content to strike a balance between children and adults, radio stations continue to abuse the airwaves and disregard the regulations.
What is more puzzling is that most of the content currently being aired by broadcasters is available in a radio-friendly format, and radio jockeys have access to the instrumental versions which they can easily utilise to clean up the content, yet they allow the explicit versions to pollute the airwaves.
There is no reason why the regulator, in the interest of public decency, cannot impose harsher penalties to punish broadcasters for continuously airing violent and sexual matter, unless for reasons of incompetence or ineffectiveness.
Talk is cheap when it comes to regulation after citing the licensees for repeated violations. Fines can make a big difference. It is full time the regulator take action to end the public dissemination of sexual and violent content over our airwaves by making the pockets of broadcasters burn. More important, parents must know what their children are listening and take preventive action.
The Government of Jamaica should adequately empower the Broadcasting Commission to effectively regulate by enacting legislation to make radio more family-friendly, and instituting zero-tolerance rules for on-air personalities and licensees so that objectionable broadcasts and breach of the laws can bring immediate monetary fines, suspension, and revocation of licenses.