Written by on August 13, 2012


Antigua – President of the Antigua & Barbuda Media Congress (ABMC), Colin James has given his full support to the establishment of a policy to regulate the local industry.


However, James said, the document and the establishment of a commission to monitor its implementation must have broad-based input and be free of political interference.


“A broadcast commission has to be free of political bias, free of political interference. Once we can get that in place, I don’t think we’ll have a problem,” he noted, explaining this was one of the aims of the Congress.


“Maybe what is good for one media house may not be good for another so they need that independent regulatory body to deal with these issues.”


Human rights advocates have begun preliminary work on the policy that was sparked by controversy over a Carnival hit song deemed to be promoting violence against women.


The ABMC head urged that the churches, media groups and other non-governmental organisations get involved.


He used as an example, the work of Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission in ensuring that media houses there did not breach regulations relating to coverage of the London Olympics.


Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission replaced the Broadcasting Authority that was established through legislation passed in 1949, and is responsible for monitoring and regulating the media in accordance with public policy and law.


In February 2009, the body banned all types of music featuring explicit sex and violence from the country’s airwaves, including those that promoted the highly popular “daggering”, which simulated sex in dancehalls.


Also the Commission took a zero tolerance policy to “any recording, live song or music video that promotes and/or glorifies the use of guns or other offensive weapons; any recording, live song or music video which promotes or glorifies any offence against the person such as murder, rape, and mob violence or other offences such as arson.”


The Commission further recommended that payola (a secret or private payment in return for the promotion of a product, service, etc., through the abuse of one’s position, influence, or facilities) be made a criminal offence.

Though he did not suggest that payola was a factor during the carnival celebrations, James said he is concerned about the way in which local music was played during the season.


“You get the impression, sometimes, there’s a move by some influential people to have certain songs played more than others,” he said.


The veteran journalist recalled that in 1984 the state-owned ABS had a policy that the radio’s playlist had to be vetted by the station manager, ensuring the equal rotation of songs.


“I just hope that we return to that situation where the people who are responsible for the media houses would institute some policy at carnival times especially that the songs are rotated so that people know them,” he said.

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