Why Jamaica is banning the playing of gun, scamming and Molly music

Francis Akhalbey October 12, 2022
Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission has ordered broadcasters to stop playing Molly, gun and scamming music -- Photo Credit: CountdownCrispy

Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission has ordered broadcasters to take swift action to ensure they don’t transmit any recorded material that encourages and/or glorifies unlawful activity, Loop Jamaica reported. 

The Caribbean nation’s Broadcasting Commission oversees radio, television, and cable services on the island. In a news release, the Commission said broadcasters should immediately stop transmitting “any audio or video recording, live song, or speech which promotes and/or glorifies scamming, illegal use or abuse of drugs (for example ‘Molly’), illegal or harmful use of guns or other offensive weapons, ‘jungle justice’ or any other form of illegal or criminal activity.”

The Commission also ordered broadcasters to stop airing “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.”

The regulatory body said that includes “live editing and original edits (eg edits by producer/label) as well as the use of near-sounding words as substitutes for offensive lyrics, expletives, or profanities.”

“To be clear, the broadcast of a sampling of any song which promotes or glorifies scamming, illegal drugs, illegal or harmful use of guns, or other offensive weapons, ‘jungle justice’ or any other form of illegal or criminal behaviour is strictly prohibited,” the Commission added.

The Commission said the directive was issued in an effort to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring such content isn’t transmitted on the Caribbean nation’s airwaves. 

“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 in the release.

“It could also unwittingly lend support to moral disengagement and further normalise criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth, and the young adult demographic.”

Cordel Green, who is the executive director of the Commission, said the directive was given after the regulatory body scrutinized certain expressions.

“Part of the difficulty in dealing with music, especially that which emerges from a subculture, is that it takes time to identify, understand and verify the slangs and colloquial language used. Understandably, new street lingua may take some time before they are normalised, or their meanings become well entrenched,” Green said, per Loop Jamaica.

“The Commission also has to be circumspect in its actions, knowing that regulatory attention can have the unintended consequence of giving exposure to and popularising subcultural phenomenon.”

Green also said that while there shouldn’t be an issue with regard to the right to freedom of expression in content regulation, any audio or visual material that encourages illegal activities does not go in line with the principles of responsible broadcasting.

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