Censorship in the music biz

03.29.03

Initial reports that CHUM radio had pulled 20 anti-war songs off the playlists of one of its radio stations are false, much to my relief. When I first read the story, I couldn’t believe it . . . and apparently, neither could the station:

The original report claimed the banned songs included Give Peace A Chance by John Lennon, Soldier Boy by The Shirelles (a love song), Revolution by The Beatles and One Tin Soldier by The Original Caste.

“No songs have been banned on 1050 CHUM — none,” Brad Jones, the station’s program director, said yesterday. The station yesterday even played at least two of the purported banned songs, including Give Peace A Chance.

Rob Farina, program director of 104.5 CHUM-FM, said his station also has not banned any war- or peace-themed songs.

Jones said pulse24.com’s story was the result of a breakdown in communication during an interview between a pulse24.com reporter and CHUM-FM music director Barry Stewart. The reporter asked Stewart which war-themed songs were being pulled. Stewart thought the reporter meant pulled off the shelf for broadcast, whereas the reporter meant pulled from the playlist.

I’m certainly glad that the rumours turned out to be false. But the fact that the media was so willing to believe and publish the story in the first place raises an interesting question: where does the line get crossed? Being sensitive to controversy is one thing, but I could never condone all-out censorship, and neither could most people.

But while this report was false, reports that MTV Europe is practicing censorship unfortunately seem to be true:

MTV has banned music videos with war-related titles, lyrics or images, including Paul Hardcastle’s 19 and Outkast’s Bombs over Baghdad, for the duration of the conflict in Iraq.

The leading music channel will not show pop promos that feature “war, soldiers, war planes, bombs, missiles, riots and social unrest, executions and other obviously sensitive material”, according to an internal memo seen by MediaGuardian.co.uk.

[ . . . ]

“MTV, like many other broadcasters, feels content should reflect audience sensitivities at this time of war,” an MTV spokeswoman said.

“Any changes to playlists are only a temporary measure,” she added.

I sincerely hope that this policy is reconsidered. After all, isn’t freedom of expression one of the things we’re fighting for?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 mr_b2b2 03.30.03 at 4:48 AM

the dixie chicks should get what they deserve, however.

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