Slack song ban - Kartel's 'Rampin' Shop' among explicit lyrics outlawed

Published: Saturday | February 7, 2009

André Wright, Night Editor

The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, the watchdog over the island's electronic media, yesterday banned radio and television stations from airing songs with content deemed explicitly sexual and violent, even if concealed by bleeps.

All dancehall songs which qualify as 'daggering' content - the rapidly emerging culture of quasi-erotic dances and music - will also be outlawed from the airwaves, the commission also said.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, does not affect content recorded on CDs and DVDs.

"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'," said Hopeton Dunn, commission chairman, in a release last night.

"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," Dunn continued.

Widespread criticism

The Broadcasting Commission's tough stance coincides with widespread criticism of the chart-topping hit, Rampin' Shop, a song laden with sexually explicit content and inferences. The song is performed by deejays Vybz Kartel and Spice.

Debate was stirred when Esther Tyson, a Sunday Gleaner columnist, lambasted media managers for giving dancehall artistes a platform to "corrupt the psyche of Jamaican children".

"We must work together to stop enriching people like Vybz Kartel who create filth and are then paid when they release it on the public.

"The corporate giants in this nation who are promoting such filth need to come into the schools and see what is happening to the minds of the young," wrote Tyson, principal of the co-ed school, Ardenne High.

The Broadcasting Commission has come under pressure in recent months as complaints mounted, particularly in print media, that the organisation should ramp up its policing of the airwaves and sanction stations which breach the Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations.

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) last night told The Gleaner that it was in support of the move by the Broadcasting Commission to ban the airing of songs with extensive bleeping.

"We believe that there should be a distinction between creative production for consumption or enjoyment in the dancehall vs the public airwaves," said PAJ President Byron Buckley.

"We are against the current futile practice of bleeping out distasteful sections of a song on air when, in fact, the explicit content is widely available elsewhere."

Gary Allen, chairman of the Media Association of Jamaica, the umbrella representing both print and broadcast management, said entertainment-centred stations would likely suffer most from the new directive.

"The entertainment stations will have a struggle as they will not be able to compete with the different entertainment tools such as CDs and iPods. But they still have to be mindful that it's a directive from the commission that has the authority without media houses questioning it," he told The Gleaner last night.

Allen said the Media Association of Jamaica was categorically against the airing of songs "that clearly make reference to a daggering position" and said he was aware of the Broadcasting Commission's bid to balance popular interest with the boundaries of public decency.

In recent years, church and civic groups have clamoured for a tighter leash to be placed on television and radio content. But dancehall proponents have argued that the musical genre has been an easy target of moral conservatives seeking to impose a generic standard of values.

- Nadisha Hunter contributed to this story.

Do you agree with the Broadcasting Commission's ban?

Email comments to

Photographic example of 'Daggering'