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Understanding Regulation and Censorship

Caroline Bagshaw | Thursday August 27, 2009

Categories: A Level, Key Concepts, Institutions, Censorship & Regulation, Understanding Media, Understanding Key Concepts, Understanding Key Topics

Why Regulate The Media?

The media now affects nearly every aspect of our lives.  It influences the products we consume, via advertising; our understanding of the world via news and documentary; our leisure via film and broadcast fiction and games; our methods of communication via the internet.  It is widely acknowledged that this dominance gives the media huge influence.

For example:

  • The Media Effects theory has achieved widespread acceptance by society.  This theory suggests that those who are exposed to violence in the media are influenced to behave in a violent manner.  Although it is extremely difficult to “prove? this theory, a number of high-profile cases have been used to support the theoretical link between media and actual violence.
  • Moral panics, (first identified by Cohen in the 1960s), where the repetitive reporting of incidents in the media creates a (possibly inflated) fear.

For example, the moral panic on paedophilia, following high-profile cases such as Sara Payne / Holly and Jessica etc. has had such a huge influence that it has led to changes in the law with regards to those who have contact with children.  Remember when you went on a school trip and parents came to help?  Now many of them have police-checks before they can do so. 

Although the law only actually requires those who have unsupervised contact with children to have these checks, due in part to the high profile the media have given these sorts of cases, most schools, scout-groups etc. insist on all of those who have any such contact with children having Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

A2 Media Debate

With this power to influence it is generally recognised that there need to be some controls in place to regulate the output of the media.  There is a media debate which centres on the following question:

  • At what point does regulation become censorship?

The following will explore this debate, via the main UK media institutions with...

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