Does Media Ownership Need To Be Regulated Media Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Media|
|✅ Wordcount: 2244 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
In this assignment am aiming to address three main reasons the way how media ownership has to be regulated in digital age. The two aims are will focuses on the European Union in terms of media ownership regulation such as; to protect freedom of expression and the fair regulation of media and media ownership to ensure high quality, unbiased broadcasts and finally, a concern to the public is the protection of privacy.
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Our lives, our everyday choices, our aspirations (goals) our continually changing values, are constantly shaped by the media in all its forms. For the last 40 to 50 years, we have seen TV dominate, and here in the UK, we have gone from a virtual monopoly to a situation where we have access to unlimited amount of TV channels.
In the UK, and most countries, the introduction of regulation of media and media ownership has been a requirement which is unavoidable. In a free society, one major aim is to ensure that each media format, radio, TV, newspapers, have lots of players within the market place. A particular media market with lots of players, and not just one or two major players is said to be ‘plural’ or in a state of plurality. Governments in free societies aim to ensure that regulation of media ownership ensures this plurality. Some governments have such stringent laws which mean that media owners find it hard to operate in a free way, so companies are limited in terms of expansion and growing in a natural way. Governments have to take into consideration that rules of media ownership do not hold back companies in this way, and hence regulation must aim to balance between plurality, and allowing companies to deliver their media without too many laws that slow down free thinking, creativity and quality.
Current media regulation within the UK developed from regulation originally aimed at printed form. Earliest regulation was inadequate and included newspapers only adhering to certain laws and not infringing those laws, such as libel etc. Recently the newspaper industry as its own code-of-conduct, and is said to be self-regulated. Some would view self-regulation as only in the interests of media owners, and not necessarily in the interests of the public and private lives of individuals within the public.
Media is going through such a rate of change, it’s been described as a media revolution, or digital revolution and we’re said to be in the “information age”. Change is so fast, and continuing that regulation is under strain to keep up with these new formats. For instance, as Doyle (2002:150) describe in her book; broad-band Internet technologies bring about the possibility of not only conventional TV, but also interactive TV, sitting alongside your home computer network. Increasing numbers of devices are now able to stream media into the home through these broadband providers, such as cable or DSL technologies. This change is world-wide, affecting all countries to some degree, even the poorest third world countries have access in places to these technologies, even if it’s a little slower on the update than elsewhere. When different media types are able to utilise the same medium of transmission (The Internet), we know this sharing of the medium as ‘convergence’. Converged Media is both great, but is a headache for regulators work-wide.
As new forms of media developed over time, such as radio, TV, and more recently the Internet, regulation has had to develop with it. Currently regulation of these new forms of media in the UK is carried out by a body called Ofcom. In Ofcom’s own words:-
“Ofcom is the communications regulator. We regulate TV and radio, fixed line telecoms and mobiles, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.”
All forms of media allow us as a society to challenge the status quo, challenging the government to do better for its citizens, and fight against corruption. Laws allow governments to censor the printed media easily, but it’s not so easy to censor newer forms of media such as the Internet.
Throughout the world, it’s been easy to regulate traditional forms of media which include those mentioned, TV, radio, magazines, newspapers & books, but governments are faced with the difficulty in regulation new media which is now international, websites, Internet radio. How can one country regulate media ownership in other countries, because the Internet enables anyone to get media created in other nations? Whilst ensuring plurality has been focused on printed media, to ensure citizens get a wide variety of views from media, the nature of the Internet itself is plural, in my view, more emphasis in future has to be put on regulating media ownership on a global scale, but this is a controversial view. Recently we have seen countries such as China put blanket bans on their citizens viewing a large number of sites on the Internet. These are draconian measures, but shows what lengths some countries may go to enforce their own forms of censorship.
The European Union has a directive which is a “country of origin rule for the provision of on-line services (‘information society services’)”. This directive ensures that regulation of the Internet is enforced at the country of origin, and not the country that the public may view the content. This has obvious difficulties, because only certain internationally agreed laws such as child porn are enforced globally. The problem arises when one country has different social values and social practices to another. For instance one country can have very open views on adult pornography to another’s, and their laws will be vastly different in this respect.
The EU’s country of origin direct prevents the country of destination from applying it’s own laws to the media providers’ country of origins media owner. Domestic regulators cannot apply their rules to another member states’ media owner (“incoming services”). On the other hand regulators must also apply their own rules to domestic media owners who supply media to citizens of another member state (“outgoing services”).
It follows that if regulations brought in to ensure media ownership is plural, then the outputs of the media should likewise also be plural by their very nature. As an example, we can use satellite TV: If a country allows both domestic and international TV broadcasts to be received by its citizens, then this ensures that there are different views, beliefs and cultural values outputted; hence by nature this medium is plural. Stricter governments and regimes mean that tight controls on media ownership means strict and tighter media output.
Going back to printed media’s in the UK such as newspapers, laws or acts of parliament, are used for control of media ownership. The government used the “Fair Trading Act 1973” to regulate how ownership and takeovers are conducted. In addition the “Broadcasting Act 1996” was used to regulate cross-media ownership, and prevent the dominance of one company across the spectrum of media. The government has to be involved with ensuring diversity in output, through the control of ownership. I think that it’s important ensure competition within the market using laws that control ownership in this way, ensuring regulation for plurality can be achieved through control of ownership.
A worst case scenario if whereby one company, say Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper industry gets so strong that it is able to turn say news into a monopoly; this would mean that Murdoch would be able to control who gets voted into government, what we by, we’d only tend to go for certain brands. A monopoly would mean that the public interest was not being served, and we’d continually be misinformed in the interests of only that company. In history we have seen where the control of all media forms can cause bloodshed on a wide scale, recently in Rwanda, Bosnia, and further back in the Second World War. In order to stop this happening again, it’s important to ensure that media provides a balanced, view, and regulation though business law through acts of parliament will ensure this is prevented.
The European Union’s E-Commerce directive seems to ensure that on the European scale, the regulation of media ownership ensures a wide variety of media types and additional internationally agreed laws on privacy, data protection, and child pornography for instance can be utilised to protect citizens where local laws are not adequate in this respect.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has also implemented laws on media ownership, such ‘Article Eight’: “Freedom of Expression”. The complexity of broadcasting laws throughout the world can be seen within the EU, as the EU continues to find new ways of ensuring that cross-border media outlets are regulated in a way that participating country’s all play a part in allowing freedom within a set of guidelines that still stays within the public interest. These laws for cross-border media types such as the Internet and satellite TV do not pertain so much to older media types like newspapers and laws on media ownership is left to individual member states to take care of.
It’s not all plain sailing within Europe, because there has been stiff opposition to laws that hinder Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the press. The European Union has come up with an EC directive known as “Television without Frontiers”, which takes the result of the ‘Convention on Trans-frontier Television’ into current European Law on media ownership.
So we have seen that the two aims of the European Union in terms of media ownership regulation are:
To protect freedom of expression
The fair regulation of media and media ownership to ensure high quality, unbiased broadcasts.
The third aim, which recently has come more of a concern to the public is the protection of privacy. People should have some degree of privacy in their lives, and domestically newspapers have been allowed to invade someone’s privacy on the basis that it’s “in the public interest”. Different member states within the EU have different views of what is “in the public interest”, and where we have new forms of media that have no borders, then how do we tackle news based on peoples private lives, and where do you draw the line on what should be an invasion of privacy and what is “in the public interest” if different member countries greatly differ on that. The European Union has tended to shy away from this issue, and concentrate more on enforcing laws on media owners concerned with intellectual property rights, and copyrights, with slightly bit more emphasis on privacy only recently.
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The European Union approach with the television directive has looked more on media content in terms of violence, pornography racial hatred and the “right to reply”. These paws prevent broadcasters from going over the top in what they broadcast, whilst ensuring that ownership remains broad and international ensuring that freedom of expression is OK in all member states. The EU is not so concerned with individual media moduls like Murdoch taking control of large swathes of the media, and this controlling public opinion without variation, but is more concerned with plurality and diversity of media. In my opinion, this is right, and a balanced view form a wide variety of media owners can be achieved this was right across the European Union though this type of regulation. Rasiah & Newell state:
“Relaxation of ownership regulation might shift attention to content controls. Again, multiplicity of outlets and communications convergence provide arguments against such controls. Scarcity and ‘impact’ might have justified special statutory controls over broadcasting until now, but such reasons have no relevance to the future information and communications industry. The print media would never accept such statutory interference with freedom of expression. It is vehemently opposed to licensing or pre-vetting and could not accept ‘due impartiality’ requirements – its current self-regulatory code expressly preserves its freedom to be partisan. In the multi-media world there is little danger of information monopoly. “
Rasiah & Newell attempt to describe here how the print media have prevented the government here in the UK from attempting to enforce laws that restrict or interfere with their freedom of expression; it would mean death for any UK government that went up against the print industry. However, by relaxing regulation of ownership means that content is more of an issue, and we have seen that on the European level.
I am unsure that a self-regulating press can be totally in the pubic interest, and would like to see more of an effort on the European level to tackle issues such as privacy and what is in the “interest of the public” on a European level, as the UK papers seem to get away with ‘murder’ sometimes.
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