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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 16:46 GMT
BBC defends rap playlists
Guns recovered by the Metropolitan Police
Some of the guns recovered by police last year
The BBC has defended Radio 1 and new digital station 1Xtra after a top reggae producer accused them of encouraging gun crime in the UK.

Neil Fraser - who works under the name Mad Professor and runs reggae label Ariwa Sounds - said producers of the networks' ragga and hip-hop output were acting "irresponsibly".

1Xtra has several programmes that play music that encourage gun violence and a general ignorant aggro within the black community

Neil 'Mad Professor' Fraser
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, he said Radio 1's ragga and hip-hop shows bore some of the responsibility for the rise in "gun culture" in some cities in the UK.

"The producers should share some of the guilt every time a black youth dies by the gun in Britain," he said.

Fraser - who is best known for his No Protection album with Massive Attack in 1995 - singled out shows on 1Xtra, the digital station set up by the BBC last year to showcase new urban music.

"It has several programmes that play music that encourage gun violence and a general ignorant aggro within the black community," he said.

"There is no programme of positive black awareness, and there are no programmes reflecting the large influence lovers rock, jazz and dub have had on Britain."

He added he had written to two BBC producers to warn them they were "encouraging violence" with their musical policy - but he was told they were simply responding to "what youth wanted".

'Positive attitudes'

A BBC spokesman said Radio 1 and 1Xtra "do a great deal to inform and educate their audience on a variety of issues including violence and racism".

"We make every effort to encourage positive and constructive attitudes to such issues," he added.

He added that all output from both stations conformed to the BBC's producers' guidelines, the code to which all its programme-makers work.

"We are constantly reviewing our output," he added.

Tim Westwood
Tim Westwood is Radio 1's leading hip-hop DJ
Based in South Norwood, south London, Ariwa is one of Britain's most successful reggae labels, founded by Fraser in his front room in 1979.

His label specialises in slower, more traditional reggae and dub music, rather than the more frenetic ragga and hip-hop sounds.

Fraser added that a "radical change" in the "moral awareness" of radio and TV stations' playlists was needed.

"A look at MTV and similar programmes shows videos glorifying expensive cars and a quick and easy attitude to gaining wealth, without showing the work required to achieve it," he said.

He said gun crime could not be solved by Home Secretary David Blunkett, who earlier this week attacked rappers for glamourising firearms violence.

"The government is totally missing the point," he said.

"What is the point in looking at immigration, when most of the youths with guns are born in Britain?"

"Responsible people in the community have got to take up their positions to influence the youths the right way," he added.

"Radio, television and record labels cannot be allowed to get away with encouraging crime."


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07 Jan 03 | UK
07 Jan 03 | Entertainment
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