Starcom defends calypso ban

Local broadcaster Starcom Network is defending its decision to ban some Crop Over calypsoes, insisting it was sheilding itself from possible lawsuits.

Amid on outcry over the banning of one of this year’s favourites, Not My Vote by young calypsonian Sir Ruel, the station was forced to explain its position.

Programme Manager Ronald Clarke said there was no truth to suggestions that Starcom was restricting freedom of expression.

Ronald Clarke

Instead, he said, the station had heeded legal advice not to air the song.

“There is a history of media outlets being engaged in legal action with persons, not only in calypso but also in call-in programmes and other things that may be transmitted over radio programmes, etc. Calypso is not any different. You have to understand that it’s very costly to go against solid advice and it’s not a matter of being thin-skinned. I’m sure if you hear a lot of songs on the radio you would see there’s no obstruction on freedom of expression,” said Clarke, himself a calypsonian. In fact, the radio announcer said two other songs from this year’s crop, If You Don’t Know by former monarch Classic and You by Fabee have also been kept off the air for similar reasons.

However, he said the station had been in contact with all three artistes and  “it’s totally up to them whether for radio they’re going to make any amendments or not.

“At the end of the day we are just waiting for what the calypsonians decide to do,” he explained.

“In the case of Sir Ruel he doesn’t have to do much to move on. In fact the song would do even better if it’s correctly amended. He is a brilliant young calypsonian, he’s naturally gifted, and I believe that he will be making his way to Kensington Oval [the Pic-O-De-Crop final].

“It’s in his interest to have a version that shouldn’t attract legal scrutiny as it currently is, that he would be able to present something immediately that he is comfortable with,” he advised.

Clarke cautioned songwriters to be careful of what they put into songs which they would like to have played on the radio, hinting that the writer of Sir Ruel’s song ought to have known better.

“When someone is writing for you, especially someone who is senior and serves with distinction within the calypso arena, in this instance for a young man, they should have been aware that there would have been issues with certain parts. They should be aware of which parts can lead to obstruction, albeit temporarily. How certain things have been missed are questions that they themselves would have to ask,” he said.

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