A veteran media practitioner yesterday accused the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) of fettering the constitutionally entrenched rights of the free media in its decision to prevent Nermal “Massive” Gosein’s contentious song, Rowlee Mudda Count, from being played on the airwaves.
Ken Ali, former chief executive officer of State-owned CNMG, said in his 43 years in the media, he had never seen such an intervention from the regulator of the electronic media.
“This is not to suggest that the now-infamous song is radio-worthy.
It is not,” Ali said in a letter titled No TATT No!
“Even in the blatant society that is T&T, the song is offensive as a too-thinly-veiled odious and divisive commentary.
“As an aside, its street popularity stems directly from the inverse disapproval for the national leadership of its subject.”
Ali said radio stations have always been guided by their own standards and values, by the laws of the land, its publics and guidelines of their respective licences.
In a dramatic development on Friday, TATT’s chief executive officer Dr John Prince, in a two-page letter to Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) president Daren Lee Sing, said the song was derogatory to women and urged the association to avoid breaching its concession by broadcasting the song on the airwaves.
TATT argued that the song contained lyrics which may prove denigrating to women.
The TTPBA is expected to examine in the issue in detail this week.
Ali yesterday said TATT’s “provocative move” prompts two urgent and relevant queries.
“Why didn’t the regulator intervene in the midst of distasteful and objectionable outpourings from frontline politicians and calypso practitioners?” he asked.
“And, even more critically, does TATT now plan to wield a big stick over the radio industry, policing their content and controlling what they air?”
Ali wondered whether TATT would now move to censor the electronic media on hard-hitting opposition politicians and commentators or browbeat radio stations into toeing a submissive line.
He said radio stations were already subject to libel and slander laws and people who feel they are wronged can haul the relevant unit to court.
Ali said he looked forward to the TTPBA’s response to the development.
President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba said songs being played on the airwaves must be carefully scrutinised.
“We have all heard some things over the years from the field of pop, urban and dancehall and our population seems to think that that is normal,” he said.
“So, if we looking at songs and what they say or suggest, I think we need to look at all songs.”