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Outline the Ways in Which the Media in Britain Are Regulated

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Outline the ways in which the media in Britain are regulated. Is there enough regulation?

The history of mass communication is rather short in the broad context of the world’s progress. Despite the fact that in all times people felt the urge to share their significant experiences in more durable than verbal form – like the prehistoric paintings on cave walls and invention of writing by Sumerians later – relatively modern forms of communication, reaching large audiences, originated only in the past five hundred years. The importance of sharing information and even more – deciding what to share and what to withhold – was understood from the moment people learned to write. As Tom Clancy put it: ‘Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people’ and that is why since the beginning of times that precious knowledge was divided only between the chosen few: from high priests of the ancient civilizations to the nobility and servants of God in the middle ages; from the dictators like Stalin and Hitler to modern moguls like Rupert Murdoch. In our times mass media became a super-power: it has a colossal impact on society as a whole and its political, economic, cultural constituents, therefore it must be governed and regulated aiming to ensure a freedom to communicate, diversity and universal provision as well as secure communicative and cultural ends chosen by the people for themselves (McQuail, 2010).
The obligatory argument that always emerges when discussing necessity of universal media regulation practices is the violation of freedom of speech. ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’ (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 19). But the fundamental mistake underpinning the liberty to express oneself argument is an assumption that freedom of media and freedom of speech is essentially one and the same. It is a common misconception – the unlimited freedom of speech epigones often forget that media corporations are profit-seeking organisations, prone to a certain level of corruption if absolutely uncontrolled.
The regulatory landscape of the media in the United Kingdom is equally complex and diverse, surrounded by ceaseless debates whether media should regulated by a government, its appointed bodies or media outlets themselves; maybe this duty should be left for the general public or perhaps all those mentioned should unite their efforts. It is a comprehensive issue, requiring extensive and profound analysis and best left for prodigious studies, therefore this essay offers a concise observations on already existing regulatory practices. The first part will present key concepts of current press regulation, while the second section will offer a brief historical perspective on broadcasting and its governance in United Kingdom. Two practical examples – media coverage of Madelaine McCann case and the very recent difficulties BBC had handling Tyson Fury controversy – were chosen to illustrate the existing issues regarding sufficiency of media regulation.
One of the key functions of press is to act as a breeding ground for participative democracy, to encourage and be a cradle for innovation and advancement of society. However, all authoritarian and totalitarian regimes used means of mass communication for its own gain too: molding the public, shaping its views and spreading propaganda. Similarly concentration of media ownership can function like an autocratic regime, as monopoly lacks accountability and performs in a market free of commercial competition. The press in the United Kingdom is controlled by only a few different corporations: Lord Rothermere (via DMG Media) and Rupert Murdoch (via News Corps UK) dividing a largest share of 27.3% and 24.9% of market between themselves – that is, two entrepreneurs controlling more than a half of printed press outlets in the UK. Over three quarters of the press is owned by only a few billionaires (Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, Richard Desmond, David and Frederic Barclay).
Evan Ruth (n.d.) in his article Media Regulation in the United Kingdom points out: ‘The print media is entirely self-regulating in the United Kingdom and operates free of any specific statutory rules. The profession has established the Press Complaints Commission on its own initiative, and this body has developed a code against which to measure journalistic standards.’ (p. 4). The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) was formed in 1991 and began its work almost instantly, receiving and dealing with complaints and publishing guidelines on how to act in various specific cases. Soon afterwards it was clear that a code, unifying all the principles and recommendations, was needed and The Code of Practice, containing sixteen articles in total, was produced. The key objective of The Code was to set the basis for the ethical standards that were formed to protect both the rights of the individual and the general public’s right to know. Those sixteen articles were accuracy, opportunity to reply, privacy, harassment, intrusion into grief or shock, children, children in sex cases, hospitals, reporting of crime, clandestine devices and subterfuge, victims of sexual assault, discrimination, financial journalism, confidential sources, witness payments in criminal trials and payment to criminals (Editor’s Code of Practice, 2011). However, there were seven of those clauses where exceptions can be made if the published material could be named as being in the ‘public interest’ – the obligation to judge each individual example was left to a newspapers’ editor himself. This complex and rather open stipulation presented editor with a substantial amount of power and responsibility and many cases, where the rights of the individual were compromised for the ‘public’s right to know’, occurred. It is not impossible to argue that in some of these cases ‘right to know’ could have been used as a cover for newspaper’s ratings and profit.
One of the extreme examples of numerous press’ violations of the Editor’s Code of Practice was an internationally-famous Madeleine McCann case. A three year old girl disappeared from her rented holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal on the evening of 3 May 2007. What followed was arguably ‘the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history’ (The Telegraph, 2008), involving countless famous people supporting Kate and Gerry McCann (Gordon Brown, Laura Bush, J. K. Rowling, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc. ).
Outraged by media’s conduct, grieving family started a libel action against newspapers The Daily Express and Daily Star which McCanns won. During the process the Justice of High Court clearly stated that these papers from the very beginning of the investigation openly speculated that Madeleine’s parents were directly responsible for her disappearance. Moreover, without any proof they claimed that McCanns murdered the girl and disposed of her body, conspiring to cover their actions and divert police’s attention (Bennett, 2009).
Another victim of media lies and violation of the Editor’s Code of Practice was a Portuguese Senior Investigation Officer Goncalo Amaral, who was in charge of Madeleine’s case at the time. He was accused of offences linked to another missing person (unrelated to Madelaine McCann) and before court procedures even started, thus ‘innocent until proven guilty’, he was mercilessly ridiculed and attacked by a UK press, insulted and called various names (‘a disgraced cop’, for example). To both these accusations (among numerous others not mentioned in this essay) representatives of the The Daily Express and Daily Star responded with the loud words about ‘free speech’ and ‘freedom of the press’ and also with pulling all the references to Madeleine from their webpages. They have issued a formal apology and paid damages to all the parties concerned only after they’ve lost the law suit.
The controversy surrounding Madeleine McCann case followed by the The News International phone hacking scandal when Rupert Murdoch-led group of newspapers was accused of numerous violations such as hacking into private phones, bribing police officers, exercising their improper influence in pursuit of stories and others, prompted an outrage and feeling of insecurity among general public and launched an inquiry, investigating the role and responsibilities of the press, known as The Leveson Inquiry (named after its Chairman – Lord Justice Leveson). After an extensive investigation The Leveson Inquiry concluded that the press caused ‘real hardship and, on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people. Press behaviour, at times, can only be described as outrageous’ and also that politicians of all parties developed ‘too close a relationship with the press in a way which has not been in the public interest. The relationship between politicians and press over the last three decades has damaged the perception of public affairs.’ (BBC, 2012). The panel of independent assessors issued recommendations to establish an independent regulatory body for the press which should be backed by legislation and what’s most important – this body must be free of members of the press, the government and the commercial concerns and not include any serving editors, government members or MPs. (BBC, 2012).
Following The Leveson Inquiry on 8 September 2014 the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission was launched and almost immediately attracted a wave of criticism from both members of the press and general public. First of all, it failed to satisfy one of the most important of Leveson’s recommendations – to be independent of commercial concerns/representatives of the newspapers – as its board, consisting of twelve people, had five members from the newspaper and magazine industry. Secondly, a close analysis of IPSO by the Media Standards Trust revealed that this regulatory body meets only twelve of the thirty eight criteria outlined by Leveson for effective and independent press self-regulation. Similarly to these findings, the major British newspaper The Guardian (accompanied by The Financial Times) straightforwardly refused to join IPSO, stating that they fail to see any major differences between IPSO and its predecessor PCC, claiming that the new regulatory body is still controlled by the press similarly to the PCC – via funding body and other mechanisms – with the industry tentacles reaching into the constitutional arrangements and control of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (The Guardian, 2014).
To conclude these brief observations on press regulation in the UK it must be said that whilst freedom of speech is a base for any participative and pro-active democracy, this essay’s author believes that freedom of speech and an absolute freedom of the press is not the same thing. Condensed survey of press coverage of Madeleine McCann case shown that media corporations are not immune to putting their ratings and expectations of increasing their profits before the actual interest in the individual and public’s rights alike. Moreover, organisations like PCC replaced by IPSO in some cases can be, as a former Labour leader Ed Miliband put it, a ‘toothless poodle’ (BBC, 2011). However, while it is clear that the press has to be regulated and also held accountable for its actions, it is still rather difficult to decide how it is supposed to be done. Nevertheless, one thing is evident: a traditional self-regulatory model, which was established in the fifties and worked till the recent years, failed and needs to be radically reformed or replaced altogether. Perhaps one of the most concerned members of the society – the general public – could voice their opinion?

In contrast to the entirely self-regulating press, broadcasting regulation in UK is based on a multitude of statutory rules and codes. Yet the attempts to centralize broadcasting governance succeeded only recently – with the establishment of Office of Communications (Ofcom) in 2003 – which replaced five prior regulators: the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), The Independent Television Commission (ITC), Oftel, the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency. Ofcom is an independent regulator, acting solely in the interests of consumers, but at the same time it is accountable to Parliament and works closely with the Department of Trade and the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Ofcom’s main duty is to further and defend the interests of citizens and consumers and in doing this it aims to ensure a wide range of broadcasting services of high quality and appeal, maintain plurality in the provision of broadcasting, apply adequate protection for audiences against offensive or harmful material and defend audiences against unfairness and the infringement of privacy. However, it must be said that no analysis of broadcasting regulation in the United Kingdom is possible without the basic understanding of how this specific market is divided and what important role Public Service Broadcasting plays, as the regulation requirements are very different for Public Service Broadcasters funded by a license fee and for the commercial ones.
British Broadcasting Company, or simply BBC, is the world’s largest and oldest national broadcasting organisation, set up in 1922. A creative powerhouse, shaped by its first director John Reith’s ideas and ethos, was intended to serve public’s interests and aimed to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ (Le Jeune, 2009, p. 15). However, not long after its establishing, BBC attracted a substantial amount of criticism for being a monopoly (bad for democracy) and also too elitist, obsessed by class and privilege, and after the passing of the Television Act in 1954 which was designed to break the BBC monopoly, a new – Independent Television (ITV) – was formed. While ITV was regulated by a public body and had a statutory responsibility to impose public service requirements, it had one crucial difference from BBC – was a commercial channel, thus permitted advertising. Following the creation of ITV, a new regulatory body – Independent Television Authority (ITA) – was established, designed to supervise the functioning of ITV.
1982 saw a start of Channel 4 – a state owned national broadcaster, funded by its commercial activities, namely the advertising revenue, sold by ITV companies. Channel 4 was a result of The Annan Committee, which recommended a new approach to the funding and structure of television. Not long after The Annan Committee, another very important event took place – the Broadcasting Act received royal assent on 1 November 1990. This Act allowed more commercial competition into a broadcasting system and also laid a groundwork for digital terrestrial television. Furthermore, The Broadcasting Act enabled the multi-channel environment (commercial and company-owned) and market pluralism.
As can be seen from a very brief history of broadcasting United Kingdom, there are two main kinds of TV channels – those designed for purely commercial purposes and the ones oriented towards the public benefit – the distinction lies not only in their nature, but also in the ways they are regulated. All the UK broadcasters are subject to the provision of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive which has been transposed into UK law. On the national level both of these outlets are currently governed by Ofcom, but while BBC is significantly more regulated as it has its own-designed protocols, policies and guidance established by a BBC Trust, and also special regulatory provisions are applied on BBC (and all Public Service Broadcasters) by UK Legislation, non-PSB television channels are subject to regulation only by Ofcom, and to a much lesser extent than the PSBs. Some of the key factors which apply to all the channels – commercial or public service – and are outlined by Ofcom in the broadcasting code are the right of appeal, the right to reply and rules of fairness, obligations for news to be accurate and impartial, general obligations of impartiality, rules preventing discrimination, racism and religious intolerance, but Public Service Broadcasters also has to meet a 25% independent production quota in addition to set quotas for the original UK production.
Judging by the complexity and scope of regulations implemented on UK broadcasters (and especially PBS) it may seem that their production is strictly governed and monitored, moreover, public could reasonably expect only the highest quality content from the BBC as it is not only well-established and prestigious media corporation, but also the one funded principally by a television license fee. However, long and convoluted debates over the efficiency of BBC and its role in contemporary society revealed a rather controversial side of what is generally thought to be an elite, objective and ‘higher-quality producing’ channel. There are numerous extensive studies dedicated to this topic, yet due to limitations of this essay it is not possible to closely analyze all these accusations aimed at BBC. Nevertheless, one very recent event could be a good example of a dissonance between broadcasting regulation theory and its performance in practice.
This particular controversy involves a British professional boxer Tyson Fury – a newly crowned heavyweight champion of the world. He defeated Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 and became one of the most media-covered personalities overnight, although it must be said that big part of this attention was attracted by his personality, not only his achievements in the boxing ring. In his interview with Oliver Holt, Mr. Fury offered his views on many different subjects, most notably woman’s rights and homosexuality. His claims such as: ‘I believe a woman's best place is in the kitchen and on her back, that's my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that's what I believe.’ (Clements for Mail Online, 2015) or ‘Homosexuality, abortion and paedophilia - them three things need to be accomplished before the world finishes. That's what the Bible tells me’ (Lawton for The Daily Mail, 2015) caused an uproar and an avalanche of protests from various society groups and its individual members alike. A petition was launched against Tyson Fury competing for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award, claiming that his views are scandalous and don’t have a place in the modern society. Furthermore, Greater Manchester Police started investigating hate crime allegations against the boxer. However, the incident not only sparkled an outrage, but it also started debates about the free speech amongst the members of society: can Tyson Fury be entitled to his opinion, however unlikable it may be, or should he be punished and even prosecuted for it?
Veteran BBC News reader Clive Myrie called Fury ‘a d***head’ live on air, saying that ‘you cannot be a d***head and win Sports Personality of The Year Award’ and was thanked for his opinion by a former BBC journalist Miranda Green: ‘Thank you, Clive. That is exactly the view I was struggling towards’ (Clements for Mail Online, 2015). Similarly another former BBC journalist Alice Arnold urged her readers not to let ‘homophobic idiot’ Tyson Fury be BBC Sports Personality of Year (Murphy, et. al. for The Mail on Sunday, 2015). While it must be said that this essay’s author strongly and absolutely disagrees with Mr. Fury’s views and may support Clive Myrie in his, yet the BBC’s own regulatory body BBC Trust officially states that one of the key elements of their editorial standards is ‘being impartial in news and current affairs was at the top of the list’ (BBC Trust, 2015, p. 6). Thus it is not unreasonable to expect a demonstration of professional integrity and respect for his own employer’s standards from Clive Myrie. Furthermore, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award winner is judged by a public and not an appointed jury, therefore it is debatable whether BBC really has a right to dictate people who they are supposed to vote for.
Summarizing the given argument it needs to be pointed out that all three media-concerned parties: the general public, government and media corporations alike, agree that regulation and governance is an essential condition to a healthy-functioning and democratic mass-communication. What sparkles various debates is the inability to agree on the level of the regulation necessary and the form such governance is supposed to assume. Since the beginning of its creation the printed press had the most unrestrained liberties and was self-regulating, monitored only by its own editors and submitted to its own created codes of ethics. However, over the years it became apparent that such practice could be harmful as being profit-seeking and commercial, newspapers are not immune to chasing ratings, thus sacrificing public and individual rights for the greater shock effect. In contrast, broadcasting regulation in UK is much more complex and diverse. The commercial and Public Service broadcasters alike are sanctioned by a numerous laws (UK and EU) and scrutinized closer than the press, but even such ‘heavy-handed’ approach cannot guarantee an fully transparent and unbiased broadcasting. It may seem that while the government and media corporations both are immersed in relentless discourse about the future of media regulation, one member of the triumvirate is pushed aside – the public, which all the media industry is aimed at. The current state of affairs gives the impression that public’s involvement into these important decisions is insufficient.…...

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...may start school without the developed intellectual skills needed to progress. Douglas (1964) found that working-class pupils scored lower on ability tests than middle-class pupils. He argues that this is because working-class parents are less likely to support the intellectual development of the child. In support, Bernstein and Young (1967) had similar conclusions. They found that the way mothers think about and choose toys influences on the child’s intellectual development. Middle-class mothers are more likely to choose toys that encourage thinking and reasoning skills to prepare children for school. Bernstein (1957) distinguishes between two types of speech code: restricted, where it has limited vocabulary and is based on short, grammatically incorrect sentences, typically used by the middle class; and elaborated, which has a wider vocabulary and has longer, more complex sentences, typically used by the middle-classes. The elaborated code is the language used by teachers, textbooks, and exams which puts the middle class-pupils at a disadvantage. It is taken as the ‘correct’ way to speak and write and, in Bernstein’s view, it is a more effective tool for the essential skills in education. Working-class pupils, who lack the elaborated code, are likely to feel excluded from school and to be less successful. Bernstein (1975) Unlike most other cultural deprivation theorists, Bernstein recognises that both the school and home influences a child’s achievement.......

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Outline on Social Media

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Discuss Ways in Which Social Developments Associated with ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ Are Reflected in ‘Babylon’.

...Discuss ways in which social developments associated with ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ are reflected in ‘Babylon’. Babylon is a film from 1980, which was directed by Franco Rosso. Its about black youth growing up in Brixton, South London. To many it stood out because it reflected the very dark, depressing realisms of Britain at the end of the 1970s. Back then it wasn’t really received by the public, probably because it revealed the hard naked truth of Britain, but now it’s known to be one of the best British films ever made. Its about a young Rastafarian rapper who has hopes to rise above the trails of his daily life and succeed at a sound system completion. Around this time Margaret Thatcher becomes the new prime minister of 10 Downing Street. She was regarded as one of the most important prime ministers of the 20th century being credited for breaking ‘post war consensus’ in British politics. Thatcher re-invigorated capitalism, allowed for market forces to ‘let rip’. All of this, as well as increasing inequality between the rich and poor and also in some ways between the whites and the ethnic minorities. This is fully reflected in Babylon. A way in which social developments associated with Thatcher’s Britain that is reflecting in Babylon is police brutality. An example of this was when blue in the film gets chased b police for no reason and then beaten up. Then later accused of something he did and taken to court. Police brutality was prominent around this time, mainly due...

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Using Examples Outline the Ways in Which Urban Areas Have Reimaged Themselves to Attract Visitors. (10 Marks)

...Using examples outline the ways in which urban areas have reimaged themselves to attract visitors. (10 marks) Multiple places have reimaged their cities to boost up their economy some of these are Glasgow and Nottingham. Firstly if we start at looking at Glasgow then take a look at Nottingham we’ll be able to compare them both to get an overview of what makes them unique and know. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, and the fourth largest in the United Kingdom it is up towards the north. Glasgow has reimaged itself using clever techniques for example to show its visitors and the local people themselves it treasures its history as once being part a world leader manufacture in ships, engineering and trade they left one Crain making it into a landmark and building a visitor attraction around it although this may sound boring to us many people find this amusing its one of which they have used this to encourage visitors to spend money locally as people go to visit this particular attraction it also pulls them towards local towns where they can look around new places. In 1980 Glasgow tried to reimage itself by flagship development and invested its money into 3 main cultural infrastructure to show visitors although its passionate about its history, Glasgow also wants to show it has a personality to it and to show off its creative side Burrell Gallery one of the largest attraction in Glasgow displays a range of art work from major artists this can conduct aspiring artists or...

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