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'Music and Lyrics' assesses impact of 'daggering' ban

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

During Reggae Month last year - in fact, on Bob Marley's birthday - the Broadcasting Commission issued a directive that would have far-reaching effect on the Jamaican music content being given airplay. The commission instructed that:
"There shall not be transmitted through radio or television, any recording, live song or music video which promotes the act of 'daggering' or which makes reference to, or is otherwise suggestive of 'daggering'. There shall not be transmitted through radio or television or cable services, any audio recording, song or music video which employs editing techniques or bleeping of its original lyrical content."

A year after the ban, the impact of the directive was assessed in audio-visual interviews with stakeholders in music, academia and media, hosted by Ian Boyne. 'Music and Lyrics - a Year After the Broadcasting Commission Directive' was shown on Thursday afternoon during the 2010 International Reggae Conference at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus.

In the two panels - the guests changed midway through the programme - there was consensus that the ban was necessary and even welcomed, with Media Association of Jamaica head Gary Allen saying that the definitive step negated a case by case assessment approach.

Recording artiste Ce'Cile said that the pre-ban situation had got that bad and "we were seeing how much we could get away with." She spoke of a conversation she had with deejay Bounty Killer, known for his strong onstage speeches and often aggressive songs, after the directive was issued and he said that it was necessary.

Everyone has rights

Still, she pointed out that most artistes do make clean versions of their songs, but it is up to the disc jockeys to play them.

Broadcasting Commission chairman Dr Hopeton Dunn said that one year later the Commission's action "seems to have been vindicated". He said "we hold the view that in Jamaica we need to be right on regulation." Dunn spoke to those intent on exercising their rights without regard to responsibility or the rights of others, adding that the Commission wishes to utilise regulations in a way that reminds the public that everyone has rights - including children.

L'Antoinette Stines, founder of L'Acadco Dance Company, related choreographing a dance with children and, during a rehearsal, the deejay put on a 'daggering' song briefly. "Right away the girls were on the floor and the men were on top of them," she said.

As that panel wrapped up, Ce'Cile conceded that before the ban "some very clever artistes were being very lazy", pointing to a couple performers who put out excellent material after the directive was issued.

The second panel comprised deejay Konshens, Dr Sonjah Stanley-Niaah of UWI, the Broadcasting Commission's Cordel Green and Stephen Stewart from the Jamaica Recording Industry Association. Stewart testified to the effect the directive has had on the creative process, as "even from our place in the studio there is a lot more com-mentary when we are doing a production, but we have to be careful, this might not get played."

Green put last February's directive in context, saying the process had begun in 2003 with the Children's Code for Programming. It was not issued in isolation either, as there had been a consultation process from 2008. Stanley-Niaah gave further context, saying "we have to understand that we are in an age of information overload. A lot of that is going through the music."

"We have to remind our musicians, singers and players of instruments that they have a tremendous responsibility," Stanley Niaah said.

Payola

Stewart spoke to the issue of payola and the need for disc jockeys to use a proper playlist, Konshens also addressing matters from a performer's perspective.

And, in terms of the effect of the directive Green summed it up by saying "there has been a shift, a quantum shift."

In the post-screening discussion there was substantial criticism from members of the audience, mainly younger adults, about the composition of the panels, as there was no dissenting voice; some questioned the responses in the street interviews that were interspersed in the programme. Dunn and Green addressed these issues, saying there had been no bias and went on to explain how the Commission works.

And specifically about the directive, Green said "before, people were blaming the Broadcasting Commission for the decline. That is because we do not believe in censorship. We had to step in, in response to extreme circumstances."