The television act

Explain how either broadcasting or the press are regulated in the UK. In terms of the media, the broadcasting section of it is relatively ‘new or recent’ particularly when we compare it’s life span (from around 1900 to present) to that of the press, which has had a long illustrious history dating from around 1702 (England’s first daily newspaper). Most theorists, authors etc. will date the broadcasting media as coming into existence around (1900, when radio technology was being developed).

Broadcasting (to broadcast) is essentially defined as 1: to transmit by radio or t.v. 2: to tell many people n: a radio or television programme or transmission. In definition being very simple, the regulation of the broadcasting media diverges away from simplicity. There are a number of regulatory bodies, that alone control and maintain standards within television. These include the independent television commission (ITC), the broadcasting standards council (BSC), OFTEL and The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) which also has a 300-page booklet of producer’s guidelines of which oversight is invested in a four-person editorial-unit.

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When we think of Broadcasting, generally speaking we associate the term with Radio, Television and now through advancements in technology, the Internet. Regulation is termed as 1: a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority in accordance with regulations. 2: the act or process of regulating or being regulated. During the body of this essay one will discuss, the various ways of regulating there are, the current ‘system’ in the U. K. along with comparisons between the broadcasting media and the press.

One will also raise debates about the effectiveness of the legislation and regulatory bodies in place and whether these measures can extend to new advancements, such as the Internet. The discussion will also focus on current thinking on the regulation of the Internet, and national debate and measures that are taking place. Television has many regulations and regulatory bodies, simply because it is divided into sections, the BBC being the company that provides a service for all, and must therefore provide a wide ranging service for all the population.

Commercial terrestrial channels that are regulated like the BBC but have slightly more freedom and cable and satellite channels and companies, which although are regulated, don’t have restraints on what they have to broadcast. Regulation for these vastly different sectors is therefore ultimately different and needs to be regulated in accordance. Regulators and legislators have many problems in effectively regulating each individual ‘section’ of television broadcasters, simply because each serves the public in different ways.

As already stated the BBC, as a public broadcasting company, and the company which receives the license fee that the British public pays, is indebted to give wide ranging broadcasting, a variety of programmes and unbiased news coverage. While Sky has no such constraints on it’s programming or content to the same degree it, although having to follow particular standards cannot be told what it ahs to broadcast. The press in this way has no real constraint, being mainly self-regulated.

While the press are allowed to print biased, opinionated stories, Television reporters and companies are not so fortunate. Due to the television act, which demands unopinonated news bulletins current affairs programme showing no opportunity to express opinions. It is prohibited for any leading articles or editorial view on British television. “The BBC and Independent television companies are specifically forbidden to voice their own views” (Macmillan, 1972 p25).

This is in the terms of the BBC’s licence and the Television act. The ITC was set up in 1990, a blend of, and replacing the IBA and cable authority. The government makes appointments to the ITC from the industry itself, not from the sphere of politics, as many ITC appointments have traditionally come from ITV companies. The third channel has often been critically seen as self-regulating. However with the introduction of Channel five and more independence being granted to Channel four, this view has changed to a degree.

The ITC essentially regulates commercial television (not BBC 1, 2 or S4c, the Welsh fourth channel), setting out a code of practice, which contains strict rules on taste and decency; impartiality in the news and factual programmes; and misleadingness, offence and harm in advertising. Special attention is given to the protection of children. They also maintain, competition levels looking closely to see whether broadcasting will be affected through mergers etc. Other aspects of the ITC’s role are to monitor technical standards, including service reception.

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