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    Media general notes Media general notes Document Transcript

    • Religious Attitudes to: Media & Technology -1-
    • Contents:Introduction: What does ‘media’ mean? Why is religion connected to the media?Types of message: Behavioural norms: 1. The portrayal of religious people 2. Sexual Behaviour 3. Consumerism Specific concerns: 1. Blasphemy 2. The protection of children 3. Hate speech Positive opportunities: 1. Proselytism 2. Freedom of expression and information 3. Promoting understandingExamples of thesewithin a religious context: Christianity 1. Behavioural norms – sexual paradigms in teenage magazines. 2. Specific Issues – Blasphemy 3. Positive Opportunities – Evangelism Islam 1. Behavioural Norms – standards of decency 2. Specific Issues – Blasphemy 3. Positive Opportunities – Promoting UnderstandingExamples of different media -2-
    • What does ‘media’ mean?The media is any form of communication, including newspapers, magazines, books, advertising,TV, cinema, radio, and the Internet. Virtually everything you read, everything you watch,everything you listen to will be through one form of media or another.In the past, there were fewer forms of media than there are today. Two hundred years ago, forexample, most people’s knowledge of the world outside of their immediate family and vicinitymay have been limited to contact with itinerant workers, hearing sermons or, for an educatedfew, reading newspapers and books. Improvements in communication technology over the past50 years mean that the average person today has much more exposure to many different types ofmedia. Whereas Britain once only had one newspaper, The Thunderer (now The Times), anynewsagent will now sell hundreds of different and affordable newspapers and magazines. Somechanges are even more recent. In 1950, for example, there were only 350,000 combined radioand TV licences. This figure is in contrast to the 98% of British households who currently owna television. The Internet became popularised in the early 90s and 50% of UK households nowhave access to the Internet.Why is religion connected to the media?Religious belief involves having a particular understanding of the world and having set opinionson many issues and set codes of behaviour in many circumstances. Today, much of the averageperson’s understanding of the world and opinions about it come from or are influenced by themedia. On average in the UK we watch over 25 hours of television a week. The Sunnewspaper sells 4 million copies a day. For religions media is therefore important because it isthe best way of reaching people. You often hear commentators criticising content in the mediausing the phrase: ‘what message are we giving out?’ Simply put, religions are keen to makesure that the message carried by the media is in line with their own beliefs. -3-
    • We can further try to breakdown the types of messages that are carried by the media and inwhich religions may have a particular interest:1. Behavioural norms:How we behave is often connected to how we see other people behave. By observing behaviourin others we learn what is “normal” and acceptable. Much of this learned behaviour will comefrom our parents, siblings and friends. But some of it may also come from the media. You haveprobably heard people complaining on the news that violent films and violent video games teachchildren that violence is acceptable. Religions expect people to behave in a certain kind of wayso they will be very interested in what types of behaviour the media portrays as normal. Issuesinclude: a. The portrayal of religious peopleReligions are often concerned that the media communicates that being religious is not equatedwith fanaticism, old age or being boring. They may be concerned that religious characters insoap operas, films or dramas are categorised in this manner. Christians, for example, mightcomplain that the two most famous Christians on TV are Dot Cotton and Harold Bishop!Muslims might complain that the most high profile Muslim in the country at the moment is AbuHamza. They worry that people making choices about religion now are confronted by mediacontent which suggests that all Christians are boring and all Muslims mad extremists. Themessage seems to them to be if you want to be interesting, don’t be a Christian and if you wantto be peaceful and reasonable don’t be a Muslim. Some religions want the media to replacethese stereotypical portrayals of religious people with more positive role models. b. Sexual BehaviourReligious believers may also object to the media’s portrayal of sexual relations. They wouldargue, for example, that soaps, films, girls’ magazines, etc. never discuss the issue of whether ornot sex before marriage or having casual sex is morally acceptable. And they may also disagreewith the increasing amount of material that is openly homosexual. As with many issuesconcerning behavioural norms, the media might argue that they are merely reflecting today’ssociety. This attitude is not appropriate for many religious people who would say that byshowing pre-marital and casual sex to be fun and glamorous, the media is encouraging peopleinto behaviour, which they argue can lead to spiritual and social problems. They may furtherargue that by never questioning pre-marital or homosexual sexual relations, the media isignoring a section of society which still believes these to be morally wrong. “She really wanted television to be propaganda for a very moral view of the world, not the imperfect world we live in.” (Former controller of BBC1 and Channel 4 ex-chief executive Michael Grade speaking after the death of Mary Whitehouse.) -4-
    • c. ConsumerismThe popular understanding of the relationship between religions and the media is that they arediametrically opposed, one seeking to curb consumerism and develop spirituality, the otherrejecting the spiritual in favour of materialistic concerns. It is certainly the case that manymagazines and television programmes promote a certain lifestyle, implying that wearing acertain fashion label, driving a certain kind of car, or going on holiday in a certain place is theonly sign of success. Religions, however, would not identify success in this way. “What will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his true self?” Matthew 16: 26Passages like this comment on humans’ fascination with the material. Such passages may beused to guide Christians against being influenced by worldly riches. Most religions would liketo see the media carry more content on the importance of the spiritual side of life andconcentrate less on the material side. They may argue that there is an emphasis on the consumerlifestyle because the media is dependent on the advertising revenue and support of big business. -5-
    • 2. Specific concerns:In addition to their concerns about the type of lifestyle that the media portrays as normal,religious groups may also object to specific types of content. Some of these may relate toconcerns specific to the teachings of their faiths, others may be concerns that society at largealso shares. Some examples include: a. Blasphemy ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.’ Exodus 20:7 ‘..but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.’ Mark3:29Blasphemy is the act of speaking or behaving contemptuously or impiously of God or sacredthings. So it is not surprising that, as can be seen by the texts above, controls on blasphemy areat the heart of many religions. Blasphemy is seen not only as an insult to the supreme deity, butleft unchecked it can undermine the authority of the religious order. The UK still has ablasphemy law but it is hardly used. Blasphemy laws are enforced more strictly in othercountries, for example Iran and Taliban Afghanistan. Some religious believers argue that incountries such as the UK blasphemy is not taken seriously by the authorities any more. Theyargue that this means that the genuine concerns of a section of society are being ignored. b. The protection of childrenThere has been a lot of debate recently on the potentially harmful effects of some sections of themedia on children. This has ranged from the danger of paedophiles in Internet chat rooms to thepressure on children to stay unnaturally thin. Although concerns about such issues are in noway confined to religious believers, spokespeople for religious groups will often highlight thesedangers to make the point about what they see as the generally unhealthy nature of much oftoday’s media content. Religions may say that they have a particular concern for the raisingand education of children. -6-
    • c. Hate speechHate speech is “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement todiscrimination, hostility or violence.” (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:Article 20).One of the most horrific examples of hate speech to have incited violence on a large scale was inRwanda. During the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2002, prosecutorsalleged that a local radio station in Kigali, Radio des Milles Collines, broadcast Hutu extremismand was used to demonise the Tutsi minority. The station incited violence, announcing: “Youcockroaches; you must know you are made of flesh. We won’t let you kill. We will kill you.”Such broadcasts helped prepare the way for the genocide. In the 100 days that followed theseoriginal broadcasts, and with the station continuing to urge Hutus to “go to work, because thegraves were not yet full”, 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.As a result of the ICTR, Ferdinana Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the DJs responsiblefor these broadcasts have been sentenced.This example demonstrates the capacity of the media to communicate and its effectiveness ininciting violence. -7-
    • 3. Positive opportunities:Through the ages, religions have been very aware of the power of the media to influence peoplefor good as well as ill. Standard religious texts such as the Qur’an and the Bible continue to besome of the best selling books in the world. Religious groups use media both to directlyproselytise and to further some of the moral values inherent to their faith. Some examples ofthis include: a. ProselytismIn countries throughout the world, religious groups use a variety of media to carry their messageto the wider world. In most cases the majority of content is aimed at existing followers of thereligion. But there is often also an element of hoping to reach out to possible new converts.The ratio between these two will vary. Songs of Praise, televised calls to prayer in Islamiccountries and Vatican Radio are principally for the benefit of believers. But the advertisementsin Tubes Stations for the Pentecostal Church, John Travolta’s Scientology epic “BattlefieldEarth” or websites for religious groups such as Falun Gong are hoping to attract people to thereligion. Religious groups may also look to promote positive role models for their religion suchas the Christian athlete Jonathan Edwards or the Muslim boxer Muhammad Ali. b. Freedom of expression and information“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom tohold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideasthrough any media and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights“I believe that freedom of media is essential for a free society and is a prerequisite for thehealthy functioning of democracy.” (Cardinal Cathal Daly)“It is vitally important to society that media have the freedom to investigate and explore andreport matters in which accountability has been lacking and where reform is needed.”(Cardinal Cathal Daly)Scholars and leaders from all the major religions helped to draft the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights in 1948. They, like many religious groups today, recognised the importance offree expression in helping to create a more open and just society. Freedom of expression andinformation means that it is harder for those in power to abuse that power through secrecy andcorruption. Freedom to use the media also allows the underprivileged to unite in opposition toinjustice. Notions of social justice are to be found in almost all religions; it is natural thereforethat they should support the use of media where it furthers these aims. -8-
    • c. Promoting understandingAt the heart of the teachings of many religions is the call on the peoples of the world to livetogether in peace. Religious groups are aware of the role that the media can play in promotingunderstanding between people. In Kosovo, for example, the Serb radio station Radio Caglavicabroadcasts throughout Southern Kosovo and is listened to by the Christian Serb communities,the Muslim Albanian communities and the Roma communities. It is a valuable tool in buildingtolerance and multi-ethnicity in the area and has helped to encourage people who have beendisplaced by the conflict to return to their homes.In many countries, censorship of the mainstream print, radio and television media is very heavy.But the Internet has been more difficult to control and people in different countries have beenable to find out information for themselves about the rest of the world and not rely on officialsources. Having access to the information that allows you to see all sides of an issue cansometimes help to lessen violent tensions. Conflict often arises from fear of the unknown orunfamiliar. The media can help remove this element of the unknown.This view has been recognised by the Roman Catholic Church. Since the Second VaticanCouncil, the Church has frequently addressed the question of the media and their role andresponsibilities. It has claims that it ‘has sought to do so in a fundamentally positive manner’,viewing the media as "gifts of God" which brings people together and "helps them to cooperatewith his plan for their salvation." -9-
    • We can see that for religious groups, the media is seen both as an opportunity to communicatetheir theological and ethical view of the world but also as a potential danger if contentcontravenes that view. By looking at some specific examples of how the three areas outlinedabove apply to two different religions, we can explore this further. • Christianity1. Behavioural norms – sexual paradigms in teenage magazines. Christianity teaches that sexual relations should only be conducted within the bounds of marriage: “...a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry.” The Book of Common Prayer “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:9 Many Christian religious groups continue to criticise what they see as a culture of promiscuity in modern society. On the other hand, many magazines aimed at teenage girls and on sale in the UK contain sexually explicit articles and advice. From a Christian perspective, these magazines could be seen to be promoting a sinful and potentially damaging lifestyle. They might also argue that these magazines are often bought and read by girls in their early teens that they would consider too young to be exposed to such material. For critics of such magazines, the fact that the UK has the highest underage pregnancy rate in the European Union would be further evidence of the potentially damaging effects of such media content. - 10 -
    • 2. Specific Issues – Blasphemy “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 Christianity, unlike other religion, is protected to some extent by the law in Britain against blasphemy. The law states that: “Every publication is said to be blasphemous which contains any contemptuous, reviling scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ, or the formularies of the Church of England as by law established. It is not blasphemous to speak or publish opinions hostile to the Christian religion, or to deny the existence of God, if the publication is couched in decent and temperate language. The test to be applied is as to the manner in which the doctrines are advocated and not as to the substance of the doctrines themselves.” Stephen’s Digest of the Criminal Law 9th edition, 1950 In the early 1990s the British Board of Film Classification ruled that Nigel Wingrove’s video film Visions of Ecstasy could not be shown because of its subject matter – ‘the mingling of religious ecstasy and sexual passion, depicting a sexual attraction to Christ on the part of St. Theresa – might have been blasphemous’ and thus, still, illegal. Blasphemy has now been reduced to ‘giving offence’ to those of a religious persuasion, and the law cannot be usefully employed to protect the latter from such ‘insults’. Throughout the twentieth century, active Christians in most countries have campaigned particularly against films that have caused them hurt – The Miracle, The Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ, and many others. They have sometimes persuaded film censors to make cuts, but in no case have they managed to have the film banned, with the partial exception of Visions of Ecstasy. “The law on blasphemy should either be abolished or be applied to all religions.” How far do you agree? - 11 -
    • 3. Positive Opportunities – Evangelism ‘So his fame spread throughout all Syria…And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.’ Matthew 4:24-25 ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you...’ Matthew 28:19-20 Christian groups have also used technological developments to spread their message. In the past, the Church could only spread its message from the pulpit or within their own communities. Whilst it is necessary for broadcasters to hold licenses in the UK, something that no religious organizations have be granted at this stage, it is possible for TV evangelists to spread their message in other countries as a result of satellite communication. The USA is well-known for its TV stations that are devoted entirely to religious broadcasting, leading to the term ‘televangelism’. Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is the world’s largest Christian broadcasting network. Its programming includes bible study, preaching, television services and hearing testimonies from believers. These programmes can reach millions. The Internet has provided similar opportunities. Pope Paul VI: The RC Church must be constantly striving to put the Churchs message "into the mainstream of human discourse". For many this means that they must engage in dialogue with the media. - 12 -
    • • Islam1. Behavioural Norms – standards of decency Many Islamic societies have very well defined standards of decency which relate, for example, to the clothing or behaviour of women. Clothes which are considered acceptable for women to wear in public in the UK – e.g. a short skirt or strapless dress – would be inappropriate or even illegal in some Islamic states in the Gulf and Middle East. Religious sensibilities in such countries can be offended, therefore, by what they see as harmful female role models in European and North American television, Internet and print productions. A programme such as Baywatch that was broadcast on weekend afternoons in the UK, would not be considered appropriate for broadcast at all in most Gulf States. In Saudi Arabia, for example, not only are many imported magazines heavily censored for nudity but also the internet in closely controlled by the State which runs the only international connection through which all ISPs are routed. Although some argue that there are political reasons for this control, it is often justified in terms of preserving the levels of female decency demanded by the Islamic faith.2. Specific Issues – Blasphemy Because of the specifically religious nature of this issue, it is worth examining how a second religion confronts it. The most famous example of alleged blasphemy against the Muslim faith in recent years is the publication of The Satanic Verses. "The book that is worth killing people and burning flags for is not the book that I wrote." Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, was viewed a blasphemous by many Muslims. In it, Rushdie describes the birth of a religion that looks very much like Islam. The novel includes events, dreamed by Gibreel, who is in the midst of a mental breakdown, that are derived from traditional accounts of Muhammeds life. Amongst the characters that appear in the book is a prophet called Mahound, the name that 19th century Christian missionaries mockingly used in the medieval religious plays for a satanic version of Muhammed. At least one of Mahounds followers, called Salman, becomes convinced that Mahound is little more than a charismatic charlatan. Salman, whose job it is to write down the revelations of God as recited by Mahound, repeatedly changes Mahounds words. Thus, Rushdie satirises the basic Muslim belief that the Qur’an is the word of God revealed to Muhammed by the archangel Gabriel. - 13 -
    • Another allegedly blasphemous episode takes place in a brothel where prostitutes are given the names of Muhammeds wives. This is outrageous to Muslims because they revere their prophets spouses as "mothers of all believers." Whilst Rushdie does not present Mahounds wives as fallen women, the prostitutes nevertheless borrow the names and gradually take on the identities of the wives to mock Mahound. The publication of this book led to the late Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran issuing a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie because his work was "insulting Islam, the prophet Muhammed and the holy Qur’an." Eager followers put a bounty on Rushdies head, adding riches to what Khomeini had already guaranteed as a place in heaven for the successful assassin. This threat hung over Rushdie until 1998, when it was lifted, though he was still receiving police protection in 2000.3. Positive Opportunities – Promoting Understanding Certain sections of Western society have felt threatened by the Islamic world for years. Following the bombing in Oklahoma City, witnesses claimed that they had seen “Arab men” fleeing the scene. As we now know, the bombing was carried out by the white, Christian Timothy McVeigh. After the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11th 2001, there were isolated attacks in the US on American Muslims, who had condemned the bombing as strongly as anyone else, and against Sikhs and Hindus. Similarly, there have been concerns in the UK Muslim community that following the discovery of Ricin in Wood Green and the raid on Finsbury Park Mosque, they would become a general target. Community leaders have used both television and print media to get across the message not only that the vast majority of British Muslims wholly condemn terror attacks but also that Al Qaeda and other terrorists group do not, as they claim, represent a fundamentalist form of Islam but rather a dangerously extremist one. They have also taken the opportunity to inform the general British public more widely about Islamic teachings and practices, hoping that a greater understanding of the essentially peaceful nature of Islam will breed tolerance and respect. - 14 -
    • Examples of different media:We have looked at how different religions may tackle different issues relating to the media. It isalso worth looking at some examples of the different media themselves. This is because,although many of the religious issues surrounding media and technology are cross-cutting, thereare some that are of particular relevance to certain media.Newspapers:Many religious groups in this country lament the “cult of celebrity”. They feel that the mediadoes not deal adequately with the spiritual and religious needs that are shared by all people andthat where religion once was, there are now girl bands and reality TV. Whereas people used tolook to religion for awe and inspiration, they are now more likely to find it in fame and filmstars. Newspapers, particularly the tabloids, have been blamed for fuelling what religiousbelievers might see as a vapid and empty obsession with the superficial and for ignoring deepermoral and theological questions. Again, newspapers would defend themselves by saying thatthey are only giving the public what they want. Religious groups might counter that the mediahas a role in leading debate not merely reporting on it and that the cult of celebrity has beencreated by the media themselves in the first place.Magazines:Many of the most popular men’s magazines in the UK today have regular features on what cars,watches or gadgets every man should own. The women’s magazines are full of expensiveclothes, perfume or beauty products that they claim you cannot live without. From a religiousperspective, such blatant and aggressive consumerism not only pressures people to aspire to alifestyle they cannot afford but also emphasises the material at the expense of the spiritual.They would argue that it is faith that will bring you happiness and not anything that money canbuy.TelevisionTelevision still remains the most popular medium in the world. And it is from TV in particularthat we are likely to pick up much of our normative behaviour. This is not only a reflection ofthe amount of time we spend on average watching television but also relates the nature of themedium itself. We are much more likely to identify and copy the behaviour of characters insoap operas or dramas than we are from people we read about in magazines or even in books.Religious groups have, therefore, been particularly active in monitoring television and urgingprogramme makers to create positive role models that are in line with the ethical beliefs of thatreligion.CinemaFilm is viewed by many to be a higher or rawer art form than television. Thus the threshold forcensorship is rather higher than that for TV. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)works on the principle that adults should be free to choose what they see, as long as it remainswithin the law and is not likely to be harmful to society. Local authorities retain the final say - 15 -
    • concerning the screening of films within their jurisdiction. In 1996, therefore, it was possiblefor Westminster Council to refuse a licence to David Cronenberg’s film Crash, though it playedin the rest of the country.The BBFC, however, is concerned to protect children from unsuitable material. Theclassification of films limits the access of children to certain films because it is argued that,“There is a growing body of evidence establishing the link between films and violent behaviour,particularly in the case of children watching without adult supervision.” (Anne Nelson)Some religious groups have been concerned by what they see as a rather ‘lax’ attitude towardsfilm and the apparent inconsistency in the granting of licences in Britain. Some claim thataccess to ‘obscenity’ is all too easy and that it may lead to the erosion of the moral values.MusicMusic is believed by some to be the purest art form because of its power to express emotion, todescribe the human condition, and to change moods. It is also extremely accessible anddemocratic. It isn’t necessary to be ‘in the know’ in order to be able to respond to music.It is this ubiquity and accessibility that has often frightened the powerful who have attempted tocontrol it, limit its scope and in extreme cases, such as that of the Taliban regime inAfghanistan, to ban it entirely. Plato noted the power of music, arguing: “By gradualinfiltration it softly overflows upon the characteristic pursuits of men and from those issuesforth grown greater to attack their business dealings, and from these relations it proceedsagainst the laws and constitution with wanton licence till it finally overthrows all things publicand private.”It is not surprising, then, that countless regimes have regulated music. The twentieth century’stwo most regimes, Nazi Germany and the USSR, both did this. The Nazis organised anexhibition in 1938 to highlight the alleged depravity of Jewish and black jazz musicians. In theUSSR during the 1930s jazz was also attacked; in the 1950s and ‘60s it was rock, oftencriticized as a sign of decadent capitalist values.The USA has also been the scene of musical censorship. Despite having a constitution thatguarantees freedom of speech, there have been repeated campaigns by church leaders inAmerican’s Bible Belt against ‘the Devil’s music’. Particular targets have been blues androck’n’roll, which were alleged to have originated in voodoo rituals! A more successfulcampaign was organized in the 1980s by the Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC). Thiswas successful in getting warning stickers placed on albums.Eminem’s music, and the response of the public to it, is perhaps the most interesting aspect ofcurrent music. In May 2000, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLAAD)of the USA attacked hisalbum The Marshall Mathers LP for being homophobic, and called upon him to be more‘responsible’ in his lyrics. In 2001, The Daily Express heralded Eminem’s arrival in the UK forhis tour with the headline ‘Get Out’.InternetThe growing popularity of the Internet, together with its ability to produce and communicateinformation, is another demonstration of how the developments in modern technology may needto be matched with new ethical codes of response. The Internet is one of the most immediate - 16 -
    • forms of media as it takes relatively little know how to be able to create a website and publishviews and information to millions of people. There are obvious benefits to this. For example, itencourages the freedom of expression and is a form of media that governments have difficultyin controlling. Thus it is possible for people in China to be able to access informationpreviously denied to them by the Communist government. On the other hand, however, itmeans that extremist groups or paedophiles can broadcast and share material with little control.SatelliteSatellite television allows the possibility for us to receive far more channels than the five offeredby terrestrial television. However, with this breadth of choice comes a difficulty to control thecontent of such channels. - 17 -
    • How do religions make their views known? 1. Legal and regulatory frameworkAs we have seen religions try to feed into the debate concerning the media. They have achievedthis in a number of ways, usually by lobbying the government for changes in the law or throughwatchdog authorities, on whose boards there are often religious representatives.As we have seen, there are a numbers of law and regulations in place in Britain to safeguard thepublic from the negative aspects of the media and technology. There are a number of Acts,including the following:  The Obscene Publications Act, 1959 • The Telecommunications Act, 1984 • The Obscene Publications Act, 1964 • The Broadcasting Act, 1990 • The Child Protection Act, 1978 • The Broadcasting Act, 1996The Broadcasting ActsThese are of particular interest because of their relevance to religious broadcasting andreference to religious beliefs. All religious broadcasting is controlled by these Acts,which require television channels to: 1. Act responsibly in terms of religious broadcasting. 2. Have respect for listeners and their beliefs. 3. Avoid broadcasting anything which might be offensive towards the views and beliefs of members of a religion or denomination.Further SupportFurther governmental support for these laws comes from the Department of Culture,Media and Sport, who, in turn, foster the aims of the following regulatory bodies andsafeguards: - 18 -
    • The Advertising Standards AuthorityAdvertising is everywhere in todays world. Indeed, as Pope Paul VI remarked, "No one nowcan escape the influence of advertising." There are, therefore, concerns about this situation andorganisations that deal aim to prevent the abuse of advertising. One such body is the ASA. Thisis an independent, self-regulatory body for non-broadcast advertisements in the UK. Theyadminister the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion to ensure that ads are legal,decent, honest and truthful. Most of the complaints that they receive are misleading advertising.  What are the merits of advertising?  How might adverts mislead consumers?  Why might religious people be concerned about some aspects of advertising? http://www.asa.org.uk & pages 176-7 of CMI might help you respond to these questions.The WatershedThe 9pm TV watershed is designed to help parents protect children from material thatmay be unsuitable. In order to comply with the watershed, terrestrial televisionbroadcasters have to plan their schedules around this junction, warning viewers beforesensitive material is broadcast. The BBC claims that in all but exceptionalcircumstances, their programmes transmitted before 9pm are suitable for a generalaudience (including children). Progressively from 9pm they are suitable only for adults.  How successful is the watershed?  “Two-thirds of households who receive terrestrial TV have no children. The watershed unnecessarily limits the programme content and choice for the majority of households.” How far do you agree with this view? Show that you understand more than one response. - 19 -
    • Film ClassificationAs mentioned before, film classification in this country is controlled by the British Board ofFilm Classification (BBFC).Using the BBFC’s website and p. 73 of Truth, Spirituality and Contemporary Issues identify allthe classifications that may be granted to films in this country. Film Classification“The accumulated evidence does not warrant the conclusion that viewing violent/pornographicfilms and videos is directly linked to violent criminal behaviour in the vast majority of cases.”(Association of Chief Police Officers) Does this mean that film classification is pointless?http://www.bbfc.co.uk/ - 20 -
    • 2. Direct lobbyingReligious groups have, as we have seen, employed modern media and technology tocommunicate their moral values. Religious groups have their own television channels andprogrammes, magazines, newspapers, websites, and their own press and media offices.Find out about one or more of the following:  Trinity Broadcasting Network  The Vatican’s website  The Christian Broadcasting Network  The Church of England’s website  The Catholic Herald  Islam City (website)  The Church Times  The Modern Religion (website)  The Christian Herald  The Muslim News Online (website)  The Methodist Recorder What are the advantages of modern technology for spreading Christianity and Islam?ChecklistYou should be able to respond to the following questions: • What is the impact of media and technology on today’s world? • Do we have the right to freedom of expression? If so, under what circumstances? • Is censorship ever appropriate? • Is it possible to reconcile freedom of expression with religious views?Websites:http://www.mediawatchuk.org/mainsite.htm http://www.indexoncensorship.orghttp://www.bsc.org.uk/index1024.htm http://www.unhchr.chhttp://www.article19.org - 21 -