Media Censorship: Primetime TV and Radio 7
MediaCensorship: Primetime TV and Radio
Sincethe beginning of humanity, people are influenced by what they hearand what they see especially when it is repeated a lot and isgenerally accepted as the way of life. The two powerful mediums ofthis effect are TV and radio. It is for this reason that the societyhas appreciated the need to have some regulation and order in ourliving rooms to preserve some ideals and also to protect the futuregeneration which is our children.
Theregulation generally comes through censorship implemented largely bythe government for the betterment of the public. There have beenthose in favor of and those against censorship, both sides givingvery convincing reasons. The purpose of this essay is to bringtogether these two groups and give based on my research my opinion oncensorship of Prime Time TV and radio.
MediaCensorship: Primetime TV and Radio
Accordingto Federal Communications Commission (n.d.), it is illegal to airobscene/indecent programming or any material that can be deemedprofane from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Violation of this order can lead torevocation of a station’s license, monetary fine to the station ora warning from FCC to the station. Obscene material is not protectedunder the First Amendment of the constitution. According to FCCmaterial is considered obscene if it has the followingcharacteristics, an average person applying present day communitystandards must find the material to be advancing sexual interest thematerial must depict in a deliberate and offensive manner sexualconduct and finally the material as whole must lack seriousliterary, artistic, political or scientific value. On the radio,profane language has been prohibited from 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Theyhave described profanity as any language that is grossly offensive toany average person who hears it and deems it as a nuisance. However,FCC has no regulatory powers over cable and satellite services andalso considers that since the consumer determines the channels towatch, is in a position of greater control on the programming that isaccessible at home and at what time.
Mediacensorship does not make sense in this time and age. The FCC ishandicapped in its regulatory work as indicated by its scope orregulation which does not affect cable and satellite services. Mostof the American viewers today are more likely to watch the cable thanthe traditional channels making regulation by FCC redundant. Brainard(2004) correctly observes that different people have different tastesand what one may consider as profane, obscene or indecent someoneelse may consider it as art or harmless entertainment. Furthermore,enforcement of these rules by FCC comes with many challenges for theyare very subjective.
Thesubjectivity involved in deciding whether a program is compliant ornot gives headache to the broadcasters causing compliance problemsfor them. Media censorship removes the right of t he viewer toindependently choose on what to watch and intends to transfer thisright to a government body which may not appreciate the artistictastes and preferences of the viewers. In addition, a program may beoffensive to a few people of about 9 while in general its not tomillion of viewers and in such a case the FCC would act on thecomplaint of the 9 ignoring the million viewers who were notoffended.
Themain reason behind censorship by congress is to protect children fromharmful content like violence that can have an impact on the growthof a child. According to Thierer (2004), it is not the responsibilityof the media on bringing up children in the society. FCC is trying toshift blame on the ills of the society to the media while in realsense it is the parents who have abdicated their duties in bring uptheir children in well grounded values and ethics. Parents havebecome lazy and pre-occupied with other things ignoring theirchildren. They should take a pro active role and censor what theirchildren are watching or hearing and not leaving this discretion to afew people in the legislature who might not have the interests of thepublic in heart. Certainly some excessive violence in the mediashould be regulated or controlled but a blanket censorship does nothelp in the long run.
Thepower of the media in influencing people’s behavior cannot bedownplayed. According to National Institutes of Health (2003), anaverage childe sees 12,000 violent acts on television annually ofwhich most include airing of murder and rape! They go ahead to statethat from more than 1,000 studies done on exposure of violence onchildren, it has been proven without doubt that this exposureincreases aggressive behavior especially to boys. Such statistics areshocking and embolden the proponents of media censorship claimingthat with the evidence available that media has a detrimental effecton a child’s upbringing it can only make sense for the governmentto regulate the media which they see as propagating and encouragingviolence in the society.
Refutingreasons given for censorship
Thestatistics given above are shocking but an in-depth analysis needs tobe done. The studies have only shown increase of aggression but donot indicate whether the same has gone to the limit of violentconduct. According to American Civil liberties Union (2002), there isno credible evidence that shows that fictional violence actually turnotherwise stable people become violent. Studies have not been able tocorrelate the media violence exposure with children’s violentconduct. They have not proved whether it is the violent in naturechildren who watch violent material in the media or it is thenonviolent in nature children who get converted into violentchildren.
Moststudies on this topic have come to one conclusion, that mediaviolence has a small influence on aggression in children but there isnot definitive answer whether this aggression develops into criminalviolence. Obviously, children also are able to distinguish betweenfiction and reality and more often than not, do not translate whatthey watch on TV to reality.
Mediacensorship is a very controversial topic with many debates forsupport of it and others against it. The common diversion in thisdiscourse has been balancing the rights as enshrined in the FirstAmendment of the Constitution and protecting children from becomingdelinquents due to media violence. Certainly, a common ground has tobe reached that encompasses the two arguments but the parents on thehand should not leave their duties in children upbringing to thegovernment.
AmericanCivil Liberties Union (2002). Freedomof Expression in the Arts and Entertainment.Retrieved on 3rd April 2015 fromhttp://www.aclu.org/free-speech/freedom-expression-arts-and-entertainment
Brainard,L.A (2004). Television Policy: Economic v. Content Regulation andReregulation. Focuson Law Studies.Vol. XX Issue I
FederalCommunications Commission (n.d.). Obscene,Indecent and Profane Broadcasts.Retrieved on 3rd April 2015 fromhttps://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/enus/articles/202731600-Obscene-Indescent-and-Profane-Broadcasts
NationalInstitutes of Health (2003). Impact of media use on children andyouth. PediatricChild health.Vol. 8 Issue 5
Thierer,A.D (2004). CensorshipViolence in Media. CATO Institute. Technology No.86.Retrieved on 3rd April 2015 fromhttp://www.cato.org/publications/technoledge/censoring-violence-media