IT seems like we have finally found a minister of information with the gumption to do what the government should have done years ago.
After numerous consultations with stakeholders, the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica has recommended and Minister Sandra Faulkner has accepted a number of proposed amendments to the broadcasting act, to be placed before parliament in this our 50th year of independence. Five of these proposal, if approved, would be a quantum leap forward for the entertainment industry in Jamaica.
One amendment seeks to make playlists mandatory and formally give the collection agencies like Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) and Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (JACAP) the right to access of them. In addition, when it is made into law, as a condition of their license, the act will mandate all media entities to pay royalties to the creators of the music, for the station’s use of their works. This is a major milestone because presently, there are too many radio stations and cable networks that are not registered with our collection agencies nor honouring the rights of our creators of musical works to attribution and royalties.
Another new clause will require that all media houses establish a mechanism to receive submissions of recorded music and provide objective vetting and evaluation of all music prior to its being played on air.
After intense lobbying by the entertainment sector lead by Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) — and the recent unwarranted public abuse on radio of one of our members, Tony Rebel — finally a grievous practice which has crept into our radio station to which our media managers have cast a blind eye, is to be ameliorated, by a new clause in the act which will prohibit radio disc jockeys who produce their own music, from playing it on their own programmes. Furthermore, the media houses to which these radio disc jocks are affiliated will now be required to regulate how often the music of the connected persons is played on the stations.
Finally, and most important of all, the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica and the minister have agreed to recommend for parliamentary approval, a clause which will expressly make payola an illegal act in Jamaica. Specified fines have also been proposed for breaches of this clause in the amended act.
These are some of the issues that JaRIA, since its inception, and intensified since Reggae Month 2011, has made priority issues in its lobbying and advocacy initiatives and efforts.
The above mentioned five proposed amendments, in their entirety, in addition to others which will now bring cable stations into the loop, if approved by parliament, will modernise our legislation to cover all the new forms of broadcasting. It will also update the definition of broadcasting and streamline the operations of our media houses. The sum effect of the amendments proposed will redress long-standing inequities which are pervasive in our media. They will bring more justice to our creators of music and more money for our Artistes, Producers, Composers, Songwriters, Publishers and Musicians.