NEW YORK, Nov 4 — The Country Music Association yesterday apologised and reversed course after it warned journalists covering its annual awards not to ask about gun rights and other political topics.
The organisers of the CMA Awards, which take place on Wednesday in Nashville, had triggered an uproar with the initial guidance issued to the press.
Pointing to “sensitivities” following last month’s massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas, the organisers asked reporters not to focus “on the Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations or topics of the like.”
“If you are reported as straying from these guidelines, your credential will be reviewed and potentially revoked via security escort,” the original guidelines said.
Brad Paisley, one of the most awarded artists in country music, was among those who took exception, writing on Twitter that the rules were “ridiculous and unfair.”
The association rescinded the guidelines yesterday, saying in a statement: “CMA apologises for the recently distributed restrictions in the CMA Awards media guidelines, which have since been lifted.”
“The sentiment was not to infringe and was created with the best of intentions to honour and celebrate country music,” it said.
Stephen Paddock is accused of opening fire at a country music festival in Las Vegas on October 1, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
The massacre brought familiar calls for tougher rules on guns, but with Republicans controlling the White House and Congress there was little chance of a move to significantly tighten restrictions.
Unlike Hollywood and the US pop music industry, which lean overwhelmingly to the left, country music has plenty of conservative artists, although few have been outspoken in supporting President Donald Trump.
The fan base for country is predominantly white, with roots in the states of the former pro-slavery Confederacy.
The CMA Awards are one of two major prize shows for country music.
The other major event for the genre, the Academy of Country Music Awards, steered clear of overt politics during its last edition in April in Las Vegas.
Music publicists in the United States routinely press journalists to avoid controversial topics in coverage of their artists, although direct attempts to prevent reporters’ work are unusual. — AFP