Chapter 5: Controls on Media Content
Chapter 5: Controls on Media Content Comm 130
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Date Created: 02/23/16
Chapter 5: Controls on Media Content (Government Regulation, Self-Regulation and Ethics) Piracy PIPA: Protect IP Act SOPA: Stop Online Piracy Act Help crack down on websites that display or link to copyrighted intellectual property *Many leaked movies come from individuals at the Oscars Government Regulation: “A long boxing match” The First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or p rohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. *There has been continuous debate about the precise mea ning of the First Amendment, esp. in media • “No Law”: the federal branches of government cannot make laws abridging press freedoms ; controversy of federal and state power o Gitlow v. New York – US Supreme Court ruled that the phrase “Congress shall make no law” should be interpreted as “government and its agencies should make no law”; the Constitution should override any state law that contradicts it • “The Press”: factually truthful advertising and many forms of entertainment in film, television, radio and pri nt media. o Incorrect facts/errors bout individuals or organizations that are created by mistake or sloppiness are protected by it • “Abridging”: “to cut short” or “to curtail” o Government restriction is legal if they are: § Applicable to everyone § Are without political bias § Serve a significant governmental interest § Leave ample alternative ways for the communication to take place More Allowable Government Control over Media Content 1. Regulation of content before it is distributed (prior restraint) i. Obscenity: offensi ve to accepted standards of decency or modesty § Difficult to determine since people’s standards are different and the public’s collective standards are shifting constantly § Must present clear offensive manner, be considered in its entirety, and lack serious literary, artistic, scientific, or political usefulness ii. Military operations : in cases in which the US is involved in military operation but has not officially declared war, the gov. may seek control access to information § Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917, 18) § Have used pool reporters and embeds during operations iii. Copyright: the legal protection of a creator’s right to a work § Copyright Act of 1976: law that recognizes the rights of an individual creator (in any medium) from the time he or she has created the work and that protects a creative work for the lifetime of that author plus 70 years a. Authors ought to be able to control how their work is used b. Authors should be plaid fairly for the use of their work § Fair use: provisions under which a person or company ma y use small portions of copyrighted work without asking permission, like educational purposes rather than for -profit ventures a. Transformative: when use of copyrighted material presents the work in a way that adds interpretation to it so that some people might see it in a new light § Parodies: a work that imitates another work for laughs in a way that comments on the original work (ex: Weird Al) a. Line between fair use and copyright violation is hard to figure out with parodies iv. Education: the right of primary and secondary school administrators to dictate school-newspaper policy and refuse to allow articles to appear v. National security : information that, if revealed, would pose a clear and present danger to the ability of the US to defend itself against enemies vi. Clear and present danger to public safety : a situation in which media content itself poses a threat to the physical welfare of citizens vii. Commercial speech : messages designed to sell products or services 2. Regulation of content after it has been distributed i. Defamation: a highly disreputable or false statement about a living person or organization that causes injury to the reputation that a substantial group of people hold for that person or entity § Slander: spoken communication that is considered harmful to a person’s reputation § Libel: written communication that is considered harmful to a person’s reputation a. Libel per se: written communication that is considered obvious libel b. Libel per quod: words, expressions, and statements that may seem innocent at face value, bu t may considered libelous in their actual context c. Public figure: persona who is a politician or someone who has stepped into a public role ; more difficulty to win libel claims d. Private person: and individual who may be well known in the community, but has no authority or responsibility for the conduct of government affairs and has not thrust himself into the middle of an important public role e. Actual malice: reckless disregard for truth or knowledge of falsity f. Simple malice: hatred or ill will toward another person g. Simple negligence: lack of reasonable care; proof of such is required by the Court to sue for libel h. Red-flag words: cheat, phony, hypocrite, prostitute, thief, etc. ii. Invasion of Privacy: the right to be protected from unwanted intrusions or disclosure § False light: publishing material that falsely suggests an individual is involved in an illegal or unethical solution § Appropriation: the unauthorized use of a person’s name of likeness in an ad, poster, PR promo, or other commercial context § Intrusion: when a person or organization intentionally invades a person’s solitude, private area, or affairs § Public disclosure: truthful info concerning the private life of a person that a media source reveals and that both would be high offensive to a reasonable person and is no of legit public concern § Databases and privacy concern s a. Silently tracking on technological devices b. Cookie trading (chapter 6) c. Gramm-Leach-Bliley: prevents banks and credit card companies from selling certain kinds of data about Americans d. HIPAA: stops health providers from sharing your personal medical info wi th marketers e. COPPA: requires online publishers and advertisers to get parents’ permission if they want to collect info from children under 13 3. Economic regulation : rules set by the government about how firms are allowed to compete with one another i. Antitrust laws: limits excessive market control by mass media corporations § Excessive market control : behavior by one company or a few companies that make it nearly impossible for new companies to enter the marketplace and compete § Monopoly: control of the market by a single firm. § Oligarchy: control of the market by a few firms. § Antitrust policies: policies put in place to maintain competition in the US economy, carried out through (1) the passage of laws, (2) enforcement of the laws by the US Dept. of Justice and sta te attorneys general, and (3) through federal court decisions that determine how far the gov. ought to go in encouraging competition and forcing companies to break themselves into a number of smaller companies ii. Direct regulation by government agencies § Federal Trade Commissions (FTC): federal agency whose mission is to ensure that the nation’s market’s function competitively; its coverage can include any mass media as long as the issue involved is related to the smooth functioning of the marketplace and consu mer protection in that sphere § Federal Communications Commissions (FCC): federal agency specifically mandated by Congress to govern interstate and international communication by TV, radio, wire, satellite and cable. a. Creating technical order: allocating fre quency spectrums, b. Encouraging competitions: promoting efficient use of the frequency spectrum c. Consumer protection: i. Stopping marketers from using unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls “robo -calls” ii. Making sure broadcasters and cable systems do not allow commercials that are louder than the programs around them iii. Making rules about 911 phone lines iv. Promoting hearing aid compatibility for phones v. Try to make sure broadcasters use their spectrum “in the public interest”; *controversial Self-Regulation Self-regulation regimes: codes and agreements among companies in an industry to ensure that employees carry out their work in what industry officials agree is an ethical manner. External Pressures on Media to Self -Regulate • Members of the Public: individuals who may be disturbed by media content may complain to the production, distribution or exhibition firms o Ex: racism, religion, politicians, businesspeople • Advocacy Organizations (pressure groups): collections of people who work to change the nature of certain k inds of mass media materials; letter- writing campaigns, attracting media, boycotting o Ex: CAMERA – promotes its view of accurate coverage of Israel in the media o Ex: GLADD – advocates for fair representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the media • Advertisers o Family Friendly Programming Forum and ANA Internal Pressures on Media to Self-Regulate • Editorial Standards : written statements of policy and conduct established by media organizations as a form of self -regulation o Maintained by Stan dards and Practices, which makes difficult decisions regarding the acceptability of language in scripts, themes, plotlines, and images used in visual portrayals. o Guided by policy books: guidelines for fairness, accuracy, and appropriateness of a station c ontent and the like, adopted by media organizations in the interest of self -regulation o Newspapers and magazines are guided by 2 types of standards: 1. Operation policies : spell out guidelines for everyday operations, such as conflicts of interest, acceptable advertising content boundaries of deceptive information - gathering practices, payment to sources for news stories, etc 2. Editorial policies: identify company positions on specific issues, such as which presidential candidate the paper supports and whether the paper is in support of certain governmental policies • Ombudspersons: an individual who is hired by media organizations to deal with readers, viewers or listeners who have a complaint to report or an issue to discuss. • Professional Codes of Ethics: a formal list of guidelines and standards designed to establish standards of professionalism within an industry o Ex: Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Newspaper Editors, PR Society of America • Journalism Reviews: publications that report on and analyze examples of ethical and unethical journalism o Ex: Quill, Columbia Journalism Review, American Journalism Review • Content Ratings and Advisories : an adoption of ratings systems o MPAA created the first of the following three voluntary rating systems: 1. Film industries – Ratings Boards 2. TV industries - National Association of Broadcasters (TV -Y, TV-14, etc 3. Video game industries – Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) – G, PG, PG-13, R, etc. Ethics: a system of principles about what is right that guide s a person’s actions Ethical Duties to Various Constituents: • Duty to self • Duty to audience • Duty to employer • Duty to profession • Duty to primes holders • Duty to society Forming Ethical Standards for the Mass Media • Values: things that reflect our presuppositio ns about social life and human nature • Ideals: notions of excellence or goals that are thought to bring greater harmony to ourselves and others • Principles: guideless we devise from values and ideals that are precursors to codified rules Key Words: Prior restraint: government restriction of speech before it is made Pool reporters: selected members of the media who are present at a news event and share facts, stories, images and firsthand knowledge of that event with others. Embeds: reporters who receive perm ission from the military to travel with a military unit across the battlefield Disadvantages: journalists were often highly sympathetic to the troops with whom they lived and depended on for survival = self -censorship
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