What I need to learn about:• How media regulation now is different to the past• The different kinds of media regulation and how they allseek to ‘protect’ the public in the same way• The effectiveness and impact of various forms of mediaregulation – how well do they work and what differencesdo they make to people’s lives?• Debates around the role of the regulator in a democracy –arguments for and against various forms of media3 different kinds of media regulation:• Regulation of media content• Regulation of media access and distribution• Regulation of ownership
Useful key words:Media regulation = the control or guidance of mass media bygovernments and other bodies.Gatekeeping = the process through which information isfiltered for dissemination, whether forpublication, broadcasting, the Internet, or some other mode ofcommunication.Classification = preventing people from accessing materialthat is deemed unsuitable for their ageCensorship = removing material from public materialaltogetherMoralists = believe that people need to be protected from theharmful effects of the media. e.g. parents believe childrenneed to be controlled in using video games.Pluralists = believe that people should choose what theywatch.
Press regulation• Press regulation is a key topic in contemporary mediaregulation.• At the moment, the press is being regulating by a non-government, voluntary regulation body called thePress Complaints Commission (PCC).• It is made up of representatives of major publishers.• It is funded by annual levy (tax), it chargesnewspapers and magazines.• It has no statutory/legal powers making it a ‘toothlesstiger’.• Some newspapers perpetuate the practice of ‘publishand be damned’, in comfort that they have far moremoney to use in a legal battle than the public that aresuing.
• The PCC received extensive criticism for its lack ofaction in the News Of The World phone hacking affairfrom MP’s including David Cameron who called for itto be replaced with a new system in July 2011.• The PCC’s role in any complaint is essentially to act asa dispute resolution service. They will try and comeup with a resolution which is satisfactory to bothsides, mainly the member of the public making thecomplaint.• Their approach is non-confrontational, non-bureaucratic and their service is free of charge.
The Leveson Inquiry• The Leveson inquiry is a public, judge-led inquiry set upby David Cameron to examine the practice, culture andethics of the press.• It was established in the wake of the phone hackingscandal.• Lord Justice Leveson has had a heavy influence on it,making many recommendations for the future of pressregulation.• He made broad and complex recommendations inrelation to how it should be regulated such as newspapersshould be self-regulated and the government should haveno power over what they publish.• There should be a new press standards body created bythe industry with a new code of conduct.• The body should be backed by legislation.
• The current system where the press is self-regulatedvoluntarily through the PCC is widely agreed to bedoomed.• They don’t have enough power• Recently, The government agreed on a new system; aroyal charter.• The governments Royal Charter agreed following allparty talks and endorsed by parliament was due to goin front of the Privy Council on 15 May.• But the largest newspaper groups responded bypublishing their own version and government sourcesfeared ministers might be open to legal challenge if itdid not consider the newspaper industry proposals.
• The privy council, struggling in new constitutionalterritory, will now hold a three-week "period of openness"in which it will allow the public to respond to the industryRoyal Charter.• Following that three-week consultation, the privy councilwill spend a further 15 days considering the responsesbefore deciding how to proceed.• Government sources said the decision on which RoyalCharter to be selected will be set against specificcriteria, including whether the charter submitted by manyin the newspaper industry could be truly regarded as anindustry proposal.• The press charter was backed by News International andthe publisher of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph – butnot by the owners of the Financial Times and the Guardian.
Case Studies• The press have been guilty of lying, intrusion, intimidation,hacking and many more inappropriate actions. Here are afew case studies which support this:• Lying:• Chris Jefferies – around new year 2010/2011, ChrisJefferies was arrested in Bristol on suspicion ofmurdering his tenant Joanna Yates, but releasedwithout charge.• He was found innocent when another man confessed.• The days that followed his arrest, he was monstered bythe press.• He was called ‘weird’, ‘creepy’, ‘obsessed by death’ andmore by The Sun.• He said that this left him feeling that his real identityhad been torn away and he had been falsely given thisnew one. He sued and got an apology andcompensation.
Hacking:• Millie Dowler – aged thirteen, Milly Dowler disappeared onthe evening of the 21st March 2002.• The News of The World effectively decided to begin a aninvestigation of their and hacked the voicemail of MillieDowler.• They deleted some of her messages to make room for newmessages.• Her parents noticed and this led to false hope that she wasstill alive and actively on her phone.
Intrusion:• JK Rowling – The author explained ‚as an adult, I havemade certain choices in my life and I must accept thatcertain consequences follow. However, my childrenhave not made these choices‛.• She said this following an incident where a journalistslipped a letter into her daughters school bagaddressed to JK herself.• She said that she felt a huge sense of invasion ofprivacy and was very angry.
Film Regulation• The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is a non-governmental organisation funded by the filmindustry, responsible for the national classification andcensorship of films in the UK.• It was originally called the British Board of FilmCensorship when it was established in 1921 but theychanged their name to "reflect the fact that classificationplays a far larger part in the Boards work thancensorship‛. Displaying how the organisation has becomemore relaxed over time.• The board has faced strong criticism for over censoringfilms prior to the liberalising decade of the 1960’s wherefilms were routinely censored as a means of social control.For example ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ was cut to reduce‘the possibility of teenage rebellion’. (Copy Cat Theory)
• In general, attitudes to whatmaterial is suitable forviewing by minors havechanged over the years, andthis is reflected by thereclassification of older filmsbeing re-released on video.• For example, the horror filmRevenge Of The Zombies,was given a U certificateupon re-release in the late90’s. Originally it was givenan X rating (the equivalent toan 18)
• Another area giving cause for concern is theproliferation of the Web 2.0 and sites like YouTubewhich allow consumers to become the producers.• Technically, anybody could watch any of these materialsince they are all unclassified or censored. In some casesthey ask you to confirm that you are a certain agehowever it is easy to lie about this.• This defeats the point of the BBFC, since the amount ofpeople watching films is growing all the time.• It is also possible for children to access an amazonaccount and order films of any age classification.• This new wave of technology means that theoretically, Ayoung child could watch material extremelyinappropriate for their age.• This means that parents need to regulate what theirchildren watch.
• As an independent body made up of laymen fromdifferent backgrounds they represent society and thereforecurrent values and beliefs. The BBFC publish theirguidelines every five years, making amends as necessary.Recently the ‘discrimination’ area was added, improvingthe ability of the BBFC to adapt to current beliefs.• The ‘C’ in BBFC used to stand for Censorship, so inmoving to Classification, this represents a more liberalapproach than in recent times.• The BBFC acknowledges overriding principals ofcontext, time, and release format. Tangled (2010, Greno)was rated PG since the BBGC realised that although therewas fighting, the fantasy setting would be obvious tochildren as a prince was fighting a nurse, which isunrealistic.• However, new technology like CGI and 3G animationblurs the lines between fantasy and reality so maybe the
BBFC Key legislation• 1959 – Obscene publications act – The law that definesobscenity and separates it from serious works of art• 1978 – Protection act of children – Legislation governingindecent images of children• 1984 – Video recording act – Legislation that introducedcompulsory video act• 1988 – Copyright act – The key British copyrightlegislation• 1994 – Criminal justice act – Wide ranging legislationthat also extended film and video censorship• 2006 – Animal welfare act - It is illegal to supply,publish, show or possess with intent to supply a videorecording of an ‘animal fight’ that has taken place withinGreat Britain
For and against media regulationFor AgainstProtect vulnerable members of out societyfrom harmFreedom of speech – everyone should havethe right to say what they want, andwatch/read what they want. It’s up to thepublic to decide for themselves.Children in particular need protecting –Bobo Doll experiment proves theHypodermic Syringe Theory to be of sometruth, that children will be influenced bywhat they see.O’Davey – Critic – Violence plays a vitalpart in our lives; it is often the catalyst forother emotions that lead to films beingmade that express these.Douglas Gentile – Media effects researcher– Offers a range of scientific proof thatdangerous behaviour increases due toplaying violent video games.Martin Baker – Media effects researcher –We need to see violence as it is a part of reallife and helps us to understand the worldwe live in.Protect privacy of celebrities or families ofvictims. Press has been guilty of intrusion,hacking, lying, and intimidating.Celebrities have put themselves in thespotlight, they should learn to expect thepress to do what they do.Protect animals from harm If the government regulates the press, withtheir power the could well find ways ofconveying subliminal messages to sway theaudience’s beliefs almost like propaganda.This wouldnt’t be democratic.
TheoriesTheories• Barker and Petley – There is an obsession with trying to prove that the mediaare responsible for a range of social problems and the researchers who want tofind this link carry on without any evidence.• Hypodermic Syringe – Views audience as passive recipients of injected mediamessages – largely rejected• Desensitisation – The idea that the more violence we see, the less shocked weare by it in real life• Uses and gratification theory – What people do with media to satisfy certainneeds• Post modernism – Looks at how boundaries between reality and media havebeen blurred.• Gauntlett – Argues that web 2.0 media erodes boundaries between producerand audience – media 2.0
More Theoretical Perspectives• The Byron Review 2008 - Government Commissioned there is no evidence of‘desensitisation’ from playing video games; idea of games as addictive is based onprejudice. Media may have some influence on negative behaviour in children, but itshould not be singled out as a cause; specific sociocultural and psychologicalcontext is crucial. Dr. Tanya Byron.• Douglas Gentile - Media Effects Researcher. Offers a range of scientific ‘proof’ thatantisocial and dangerous behaviour increases due to playing violent video games.• Mark Kermode – Critic The public has a responsibility to look after itself and theyare giving this up to the regulators. Accuses the BBFC of being more liberal in theirclassification of ‘Arthouse’ cinema; taking into account assumptions about thewhite, middle-class, middle-aged audience.• O Davey – Critic Violence plays a vital part in all our lives; it is often the catalystfor other emotions that lead to films being made that express these. Violence cannotbe distinguished from film as we cannot distinguish violence from life.• Martin Barker - Media Effects Researcher. We need to see violence as it is part ofreal life and helps us to understand the world we live in. We are able to make adistinction between real and onscreen violence; it is the content, not the amount ofviolence that matters• Owen Jones –Political commentator – We need to challenge the way the media hasbeen monopolized by the small number of oligarchs – we should restrict ownershipso you can only have 1 outlet per owner.
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