Robeson Benn defends intervention in calypso playing


Robeson Benn defends intervention in calypso playing

Written by Demerara Waves Friday, 01 March 2013

Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn on Friday denied ordering National Communications Network (NCN) to stop playing the 2013 winning calypso titled ‘God Don’t Sleep’ but said he found the song offensive particularly on a government station.

“I said it is not for me to tell you to stop playing it but I said I don’t think it should be played,” Benn told reporters. The minister also refuted reports that he had stormed into the station and instructed that all the 2013 calypsos be banned, saying that his intervention concerning one song had created a ripple effect and rumour-mongering.         

Benn described the lyrics as abusive and slanderous and could not be proven in a court of law. He said he was not immune to criticism but at the same time he could not support such a song being played on the station.   

“I think that in respect of this particular calypso; I felt it was abusive, I felt it was slanderous and I felt that more importantly… I didn’t mind if it was perhaps played on other places which I was not associated with… I felt it should not have been played on the government radio station and I expressed that view and I still hold that view,” he said.

The minister said he entered the state-owned radio and television complex and has so far unsuccessfully requested a copy of the song for it to be discussed at the “highest level” and also with a lawyer. Benn recalled NCN’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Gordon telling him that the Ministry of Culture had approved the songs.

The Public Works Minister said he did not know that any of the statements in “God Don’t Sleep” could be proven in a court. He said publicly funded events should be based on some fact that could be properly contested.

Benn said he hoped that the lesson learnt from that experience would be “proper, appropriate vetting” of calypsos.

He also rejected suggestions that he should not have gone to the station because he is not the Minister of Information. “I hold it as my right to go to the station to intervene in an activity which I think impacted me as a citizen and also as a government minister.”



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