e-book Broadcast and Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech (Routledge Communication Series)

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Examining platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest, this book explores and analyzes journalism, broadcasting, public relations, advertising and marketing. Lipschultz focuses on key concepts, best pract Examining platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube and Vine, the book explores and analyzes journalism, broadcasting, public relations, advertising and marketing.

Lipschultz focuses on key concepts, best practices, data analyses, law and Author Jeremy Harris Lipschultz explores the foundations of digital data, strategic tools, and best practices in an accessible volume for students and practitioners of social media communication. The book expands upon entrepreneurship, marketing, and technological principles, demonstrating how raising awareness, sparking engagement and produ Hilt , Jay L. Drawing on the perspectives of media studies, psychology, sociology, and criminology, authors Jeremy H. Lipschultz and Michael L.

Hilt focus on live local television coverage of crime and examine its irresistibility to viewers and its impact on society's perceptions of itself. Lipschultz provides new insights on traditional legal concepts such as marketplace of ideas, social responsibility, and public interest, arguing that from a communication theory perspective, free expression is constrained b Lipschultz focuses on key concepts, best practices, data analyses, law and e Brief profiles convey the history of each company's products, while nostalgic and contemporary photographs showcase their big rigs.

Ofcom a has found that Channel Four has been in breach of the Code in relation to the broadcast of three events. Channel Four should have taken further steps in addressing the potential offence or in challenging the offending behaviour in the CBB House para. In failing to do so, Channel Four did not provide the members of the public with adequate protection from offensive material para. Knowledge of this material would have led Channel Four to handle differently the situation in the CBB House and would have most likely prevented the broadcasters from transmitting material which was not in compliance with the Code para.

The timing of these broadcasts was chosen in order to reach the highest possible number of viewers para. The different penalties imposed by Ofcom on MTV Networks and on Channel Four could be explained by the fact that the swearing broadcast by MTV Networks was gratuitous, while the offensive language broadcast by Channel Four revealed the character of the participants and the overall occurrences in the CBB House. The regulator has, nevertheless, stressed that any future breaches of the Code of a similar nature will be taken very seriously para.

This illustrates the challenging task entrusted to the regulator to balance concerns for freedom of expression with the need for appropriate intervention in regulating content.

Censorship

The balance between freedom of expression and the need for effective content regulation has been a recurring theme during the consultation process for the adoption of the Broadcasting Code Ofcom b. At first sight, this would seem to suggest that in the tension between considerations for freedom of expression and regulatory intervention in broadcasting content, freedom of expression has the predominant voice. Nevertheless, is freedom of expression effectively protected in practice and are the limitations to this freedom clearly defined within the current framework?

Is the current framework sufficiently well equipped to deal with the difficult balance between freedom of expression and other citizenship values such as dignity? These issues will be explored in more depth in Part Four of this study. Before that, the discussion will focus on the manner in which the balance between the need for regulatory intervention in broadcasting content and wider considerations for freedom of expression is achieved in the United States of America.

The American system of broadcasting regulation is all too familiar with the tension between regulatory interventions in broadcasting content and considerations for freedom of expression. On the other hand, the American communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission is entrusted with acting in pursuit of the public interest Feintuck, , The FCC has the authority to license radio and television broadcasting stations and is entrusted with the enforcement of rules on the operation of these stations FCC, a, para 4.

According to s. The FCC has been entrusted with enforcing this provision Coates , p.

CENSORSHIP.

The broadcast of obscene material is prohibited under s. Such material is not entitled to the protection of free speech under the First Amendment of the American Constitution Note: see Miller v California U. Unlike obscene material, offensive content such as indecent or profane programming can be entitled to the protection of free speech under the First Amendment Mortlock , p.

FCC , 58 F. The assessment of the context in which indecent material is broadcast relies on a two-step approach.

However, the FCC test for indecency has been criticised for being too vague and too wide Coates , p. This has led to a certain degree of confusion among broadcasters as to what is considered to be indecent by the FCC Coates , p. However, in recent years, the communications regulator has imposed a number of heavy fines on broadcasters found in breach of its rules on indecency Rosenblat , p. While initially the FCC did not consider these words to be indecent, it eventually gave in to public opinion and fined NBC p. This was motivated, inter alia , by increased cross-party political concerns about broadcasting indecency Freedman , p.

In , following the adoption of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, the FCC was given the competence to impose increased fines on broadcasters that fail to comply with the rules of indecency. The American broadcasting map seems to be dominated by an over-cautious approach by broadcasters engaged in self-censorship, for fear of attracting fines from the communications regulator Rooder , p.

This poses significant concerns for the protection of free speech under the First Amendment. Coates warns us against perceiving the concern for media self-censorship in entertainment programmes as misguided. As Coates suggests, the media is much more than just entertainment and there is a risk that the trend towards self-censorship could extend to informative programmes such as the news.

Broadcast and Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech (Routledge Communication Series)

United States , U. FCC , U. In any assessment about the balance between free speech and regulatory intervention in broadcasting content, the focus must be on identifying the wider values that influence this assessment. An alternative interpretation of the First Amendment focuses on wider democratic considerations such as equality of citizenship and perceives free speech as an important instrument for empowering citizens.

This approach is much closer to the vision put forward by James Madison, one of the founding fathers of the American Constitution Varona , p. Unfortunately, in the current framework, the former interpretation of free speech seems to have the predominant voice Freedman , p. In the present context dominated by a commodified perception of free speech, in which the rationales for regulatory intervention are highly politicised p.

The need for a framework of principles based on values such as equality of citizenship Feintuck in assessing the balance between regulatory intervention in broadcasting content and considerations for freedom of expression will be explored in more depth in Part Four of this study. The cases studies of the regulatory systems in the United Kingdom and the United States of America illustrate that political interests and public opinion have played an important role in influencing the outcome of adjudications by the communications regulators p.

It is, therefore, reasonable to question how much weight has been given to citizenship values in assessing the balance between calls for intervention in broadcasting content and freedom of expression. Nevertheless, before addressing this issue, it is important to stress that while the United States of America and the United Kingdom are confronted with a number of common difficulties in the regulation of offensive content and the protection of free speech, the approaches adopted in these two jurisdictions also reveal significant differences. On the other hand, the British approach to free speech which is influenced by the incorporation of the ECHR into domestic law by the HRA tends to allow a greater degree of balance between freedom of expression and other rights.

Craig suggests that the American and British systems have a lot to learn from each other:. Lawyers in the United Kingdom have much to gain by reflecting upon the experience in the United States. At the most fundamental level, this serves to remind us that the existence of a written constitution is not the end of constitutional controversy While both the British and the American systems emphasise the importance of free speech, both systems allow limitations to free speech in certain circumstances.

These limitations include the empowerment of the communications regulator to intervene in regulating offensive broadcasting content Note: Section 1 , Communications Act United Kingdom ; 47 C. Yet, the limitations to freedom of expression for the regulation of offensive broadcasting content are not clearly defined in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Unfortunately, the communications regulator did not provide any guidance as to the practical application of these limitations. However, the American communications regulator has the competence to control the broadcast of offensive content, particularly obscene, indecent and profane material 18 U.

Unfortunately, the FCC test on indecency has been criticised for being too vague Coates , p. This has led to a certain degree of confusion among broadcasters as to what falls within the FCC rules on indecency Coates , p. It is interesting to note that the approach on offensive language adopted in the United States of America has been stricter than the approach adopted in the United Kingdom. This could be attributed to the dominance of conservative views in the American political arena Freedman Important lessons could be learned from the Australian system, which relies on consultations with the community in order to determine what constitutes offensive content.

For these reasons, the Australian approach relies on the development and maintenance of a Code which takes into account and reflects community attitudes as to what constitutes offensive content in television broadcasting p. This report revealed that the Code generally reflected community standards. Otherwise, broadcasters are left unsure as to what can be broadcast. A too permissive attitude could, for example, harm children, while a self-censorship attitude could have devastating consequences for free speech to an extent that goes beyond the entertainment genre Coates , p.

The ultimate loss in such circumstances would be placed on citizens.

The ends of censorship

The examination of the British and American approaches for regulating offensive content has also revealed the absence of a clearly defined framework of principles that would assist regulators in the difficult balance between intervention and the protection of freedom of expression Heyman , p. Varona , p. In spite of disagreement on the meaning of this term determining some scholars to be quite sceptical of its actual merit Hantke-Domas , p.

The ambiguity surrounding this concept makes it susceptible to be misused for private ends or to be associated with the short-term policy objectives of the parties at power p. This is hoped to reduce the risk for the misuse of this concept by political or market powers, in the pursuit of their own interests p. The CommunicationsAct does make reference to citizenship interests in the communications sector. The express reference to citizenship interests in the Act provides a positive step in the protection of democratic values.

Nevertheless, the Act entrusts Ofcom with the dual task of protecting citizenship and consumer interests, overlooking the fact that these interests are not always synonymous. The concept of citizenship comprises wider democratic values such as equality between the members of society. When acting as citizens, people tend to take into account the interest of others, rather than being confined to the pursuit of self-interests Sunstein , p.

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On the other hand, the notion of consumers reflects a narrow perception of the public, as people tend to act in the pursuit of individual goals. To avoid any ambiguity as to the range of values protected, the Act should have prioritised citizenship interests over the interests of consumers Feintuck Regulators can assess effectively the balance between intervention for regulating offensive content and freedom of expression only if guided by a framework of principles based on citizenship interests.

Addressing such a balance is never going to be an easy task for regulators, especially when faced with the choice between freedom of expression and the protection of dignity.