Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

June 2015 Backdrop and current issues

[doing this on a tiny keyboard; apologies for typos...]
Bearing in mind that contemporary examples should be emphasised over the historic, whether as part of an Intro paragraph, or a second/penultimate paragraph, it will often be worth setting out general context. So here's some things to consider; these also tie into any (informed) speculation on the future for media regulation

WATERSHED: a staple of many Mail moral panics, this week saw OfCom receive 200 complaints about the too revealing costumes of the female presenters, allegedly unsuitable for children (they of course featured MANY pictures of this!!!)
BBC: set for downsizing by Tory gov? Really 'independent'?
PSB, C4: At least further dereg?
PRIVACY v GOVERNMENT POWER: Snooping laws to enable near-total 'snooping'? Contrast with US?
NEW BROADCASTING BAN? Theresa May to bring through a ban on showing Islamic 'extremists'?
BBFC: Another row over banning a film breaking out... Relevant in context of digitisation?
BBFC EXPANSION: Web content, mobile content and music video
IPSO: Contradictory rulings over discrimination, but showing teeth (v S*n)? Still several papers not signed up ... but Tories against stronger reg
LEBVEDEV/INDIE: The issue of private ownership and influence on editorial highlighted by the unexpected Indie backing of the Coalition - simply used to campaign against Labour tax policies?
DENIS O'BRIEN, SUPER-INJUNCTIONS: Thought to be in the past but there are applications in court now. In Ireland, the largest media owner has managed to overturn what appeared to be existing law, and actually gagged the media from reporting on statements made in the Irish parliament (about his tax policies)!

there are themes common to many of these:

  • protection of children remains the key argument for much of our media regulatory landscape
  • government-defined 'extremism' will once again become another key factor?
  • deregulation continues as the default stance on ownership, with higher market shares likely to be pushed through, and publicly owned BBC and C4 maybe moving towards eventual privatisations
  • the impact of private ownership is clear, but is unlikely to attract new regulation
  • however, alongside such economic liberalism (free market) there is also considerable social conservatism (authoritarianism?) with age ratings on videos (and more), the 'anti-extremism' measures, and the extension of government 'snooping' powers
  • the role of wider laws and the courts continues to be just as important as formal media regulators
  • political will is key: there was little (recently or historically) to follow through on press regulation reports, but there clearly is to undermine PSB ...
  • ... which faces (as does the watershed, anti-extyremism measures, anti-privacy laws and classification/ratings) fundamental challenges from digitisation

All parties complained about the BBC's election coverage: the DUP complained Northern Ireland was excluded from the TV debate; the Greens were unhappy at the limited coverage they got, as were the SNP; and there were accusations of bias from Labour, UKIP (even the BBC audience was biased!!) Lib Dems and Tories. The Tories, however, have long been hostile towards the BBC, with Thatcher attempting to pave the way to its privatisation by appointing Lord Peacock to report on its future ... only to be shocked when the 1985 Peacock report argued that regulation of TV (and 'PSB') was not suitable for free market consitions. He noted approvingly the (supposed: see Curran and Seaton's critique) way that deregulation had brought about a free press, with the 1851 repeal of stamp duty, but argued that for TV there would be a race to the bottom and tabloidisation would occur. He wrote this before L!ve TV offered up the News Bunny and Topless Darts on Ice, rather proving his point!

So, the organisation that Lord Tebbit famously dubbed the British Bolshevik Corporation

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