Let’s talk about the work on media regulation which are class has been going through in the past few days. First of all, what is media regulation? The media, whose regulation is being discussed, is the public means of mass communication, especially in the press, radio, music, television and film. Regulation refers to the whole process of “control or guidance, by established rules and procedures,” applied by authorities. “Public interest”, the “common well-being” or “general welfare”, is the goal for the regulation but also serves the needs of the market or for reasons of technical efficiency (for instance, setting technical standards). Regulation can be internal as well as external. Media regulation begins with the application of the “printing press to book production from the mid-15th century onwards in Western Europe”. Content was regulated to combat heresy or dissent. This led very widely to licensing of all printers and/or the “requirement for advance approval by church authorities for texts to be published.” In Western Europe and North America, the history of media regulation concerned struggles against restrictions of publication between the 16th and 19th centuries which waged in the name of political freedom and human rights. For most of the world during the modern era, repressive and punitive media regulation in the interest of state power has been the norm. The invention of new media, electric telegraph, then the telephone and wireless and then public radio, lead to national laws being created concerning technical requirements (e.g. radio frequency requirements). During the 20th century, the cinema film was also established, typically regulated locally for reasons of safety (fire) and/or content (moral standards). “Regulation by its very nature sets limits to freedom, which is the most basic principle of modern society.” There is no single reason why we should regulate and often the surface reasons conceal other purposes (e.g. the interests of the state).
- The management of what is arguably the key economic resource in the emerging “information society”
- The protection of public order and support for instruments of government and justice
- The protection of individual and sectional rights and interests that might be harmed by unrestricted use of public means of communication.
- The promotion of the efficiency and development of the communication system, by way of technical standardization, innovation, connectivity and universal provision.
- The promotion of access, freedom to communicate, diversity and universal provision as well as securing communicative and cultural ends chosen by the people for themselves.
- Maintaining conditions for effective operation of free markets in media services, especially competition and access, protection of consumers, stimulating innovation and expansion.
Can everyone be treated the same?
Does the idea of “forbidden fruit” worsen this idea?
Does regulation infringe liberties?
Who decides what regulations are made?
What is one trying to achieve by regulating?
How do you regulate?
How do the “gate-keepers” make their decisions?