Broadcasting Commission warns media
Adrian Frater, News Editor
Western Bureau:The Broadcasting Commission is about to embark on another tough drive to ensure that the entities it regulates operate at an acceptable standard.
After a massive drive some three years ago when it the clamped down on radio stations which presented "intolerable lyrics" and television stations with depiction of sexual simulation in prime time, the commission is again going after those not playing by the rules.
During a meeting in Montego Bay, St James, last week executive director of the commission Cordell Green declared that it will not give any ground in its bid to make acceptable standards the norm.
"In 2009, the Broadcasting Commission was forced to take decisive action, which shook up the media landscape, after a public outcry about the rampant breaches," said Green.
"We will continue to be resolute in ensuring that you conform to the Broadcasting and Radio Re-diffusion Act, the Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulation, the Children's Code for Programming and the directives issued by the commission," added Green
With the media landscape substantially wider than the 27 free-to-air radio stations, the three free-to-air television stations, the 41 cable subscriber television operators and the one mobile television operator, the commission will be seeking to widen its power to encompass other entities.
"The commission will be moving to regulate electronic billboards, Internet protocol television and satellite television as well," noted Green.
"The goal is to ensure that the providers of media contents subscribe to our position that choices come with responsibility."
Green made it clear that the commission was vehemently against what he described as "harmful content, which promote vices such as violence, racist, obscene and sexist views".
"The commission will be rigorous when it comes to the scheduling of broadcast as we seek to prevent our children from being exposed to harmful content," said Green. "Currently, the watershed is 9 p.m. daily. A watershed is a time each day after which programming may become increasingly adult orientated."
According to Green, without even the commission's regulations, broadcasters should listen to their conscience, noting that material they feel uncomfortable exposing to their children or in a church setting should be the first sign that they are bordering on the inappropriate.
Going forward into an "era of rethink", Green said, unlike the Internet and the emerging social media, which are increasingly involved in the dissemination of information, the entities under the commission's control will have to abide by the required standard when it comes to accuracy, fairness and objective programming.
In a bid to strengthen its operational platform and push its standards, the Broadcasting Commission has joined forces with UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and the Joint Board of Teacher Education for the establishment of Jamaica's Media Literacy Project Partnership.
This is designed to get the nation's children to buy into acceptable standards.
On the matter of payola, which is being blamed in many instances for inappropriate material ending up on the airwaves, the Broadcasting Commission says it remains quite resolute in its condemnation.
Green charged that payola, (the reward paid to ensure media access) is as much of a scourge to the country as the infamous 'lotto scam'.
"We will be recommending a fine of $5 million for a first time offender caught in payola," said Green.