Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The BBC's in trouble in Jamaica, reports the Gleaner:

"The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been ordered by Jamaica's Broadcasting Commission to apologise to its Jamaican audience, within a fortnight, for transmitting obscene material on its World Service radio broadcast, or face further disciplinary action, which includes losing its special licence.

"The BBC contravened Regulation 30 (d) and (l), when it included in a documentary clips of a song by local artiste Buju Banton, 'Boom Bye Bye', containing indecent colloquialisms used to describe homosexual men and lyrics that explicitly supported violence against this group," the Commission stated yesterday....

"The BBC contacted the Commission to explain that the song was being used as part of a documentary depicting the prejudices and violence faced by homosexual men in Jamaica, specifically featuring the experiences of a gay Jamaican who had been recently granted asylum in the United Kingdom....

"The BBC was granted a special licence earlier this year to relay its World Service Caribbean programming in Jamaica, and officially launched the local FM service in October."

On the one hand, it's encouraging to hear the Broadcasting Commission condemn Banton's nasty song, since Jamaican society is probably the most homophobic in the Caribbean. On the other hand, it's deeply dismaying that this condemnation takes the form of so blatant a censorship policy, especially considering the context in this case: punish the BBC for saying homosexuals have it hard in Jamaica, on the grounds that this will make things hard for homosexuals in Jamaica? I can't quite get this straight inside my head.

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