Media Regulation

These revision cards are for the OCR A2 Media Studies exam.


Media Regulation

What is Media Regulation?

Media Regulation involves non-profit, non-governmental bodies controlling the content of the media.

Purpose: to prevent harmful, illegal, undesirable content shown through the media.

Reasons why the media is regulated:

Political - parties use the media to provide voters with a flow of information about their policies.

Active Participation is an essential component of democracy.

Social + Cultural - the fact that we live in a media saturated society.

representations in the media are an expression of many identities e.g. ethnicity.

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Media Regulation

Economic - capitalism supported by the buying and selling of goods.

Media products are copyrighted as well as the development of the internet has also created problems for traditional practices.

the media is a 'mass medium', if left unregulated many companies could gain a massive amount of power and influence over its audience

The debate is about should governments restrict and circulate the content of the media.

Participatory Culture - Jenkins, 2006 "Media Producers + Consumers no longer have separate roles"

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These are also two major groups - moralists + pluralists

Moralists - believe that people need to be protected from the harmful effects of the media. e.g. parents believe children need to be controlled in using video games.

Pluralists - believe that people should choose what they watch.

The introduction of each new medium creates public concerns and moral panics. Film was introduced in the early 20th century, it was feared due to its visual power. Now we have CGI and 3D effects such as motion capture.

Moral Panics (Stanley Cohen) - the media themselves create moral panics e.g. moral panic of young people turning into theives which relates to the riots in 2011.

There are 3 stages in this, firstly the event occurs because the media decide it is worthy of dramatic coverage. e.g. during the riots there was panic over closing social networking sites.

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The next stage involves the connections being made between the event and the society as a whole. public attention focus on the issues e.g. experts make opinions on the riots which brings the public to talk about it.

the last stage is the social control, moral panics seek some sort of resolution this often comes with a change in the law e.g. byron report over public concerns on video games etc.

The Byron Report - concerns over inappropriate material.

- making the digital world safer.

generational digital divide - parents dont feel equipped.

- shared culture of responsibility to reduce availability of harmful material.

- national strategy for child internet safety

- video games, improve systems in place - restricting access

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Media Regulation

- reforming classification system article - PEGI will become sole method of classifying video games in the UK. replacing current hybrid system that has two seperate sets of symbols.

Government working closely with PEGI + VSC on development of a clear set of age rating symbols, giving parents information to ensure children are protected from unsuitable content.

follows criteria from Byron Report - trustworthy, uniform and clear set of symbols, flexible and futureproof.

BBFC - is an independent, not for profit, non-governmental body.

- set up in 1912 by the film industry.

- they regulate film/dvds to prevent people from buying and watching what is not suitable for them.

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- there have been calls for stricter standards following the Jamie Bulger case, media singling out 'Child's Play 3 (1991)'

BBFC'S MISSION - to protect the public from content which might raise harm risks.

- enable the public to make informed viewing choices.

- respond to and reflect changing social attitudes towards media content through creating public research.

Since the Byron Report, the BBFC has made their mission statement more tailored to the public concerns relating to children.

PEGI- they regulate video games in europe, they do this to stop people from buying games which may not be suitable for them.

- voluntary self-regulation organisation.

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Media Regulation

- launched in 2003 to europe.

-enable the public to make informed decisions on buying video games.

categories; 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+ and 18+

Historic Content of BBFC - 1913 they introduced "A" which stands for more suitable for adults. In 1951, "X" category was incorporated with the "H" (horror) category and over 16. In 1982 they introduced PG, 15, 18 + R18. In 1989 the 12 category was introduced. In 2002 the "12a" category was introduced - must be accompanied with an adult if 12.

The video recordings act of 1984 was updated in 2010.

Children have a clear sense about identity + age - peer group pressure - dont want to be seen as different e.g. bullied. David Buckingham thinks children arent passive. 

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Violence in video games ( - arguments supporting video gaming - what the games do to encourage developmental growth.

- a common belief that video games teach problem solving as players persevere and try to find alternate avenues to succeed.

- gaming encourages eye-hand coordination.

- video games are a meaningful form of expression as the gamer can feel guilt over their own actions and expressing themselves in the choices they make.

- video games encourage social growth as gamera play with others and learn to work cooperatively.

arguments against video gaming - video game play is directly linked to youth aggression, as these youths who play excessively become conditioned to the violence.

- youths are more likely to lack empathy towards the victim.

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- excessive video gaming can lead to health problems such as obesity and poor heart health.

Comparing the representation of violence in film and video games - films can also be represented as a meaningful form of expression more than video games due to the music and visual elements such as the mise-en-scene, films also enable you to make less choices than video games.

violent films can allow social growth much more than video games because you can go and see a film with friends whereas with video games you are confined to looking at a screen and talking to others through a headset.

Public concerns about violence in video games - "violence in video games has become increasingly concerning among the public especially parents. this concern is based on the assumption that they contribute to aggression and violence among others". (

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One of the most recognised games that sparked major public concerns was the game 'Grand Theft Auto IV', it was given an 18 certificate, many expressed concerns including parents that the game will fall into the hands of children (The Telegraph, May 2008)

"Many people believe that video games are directly linked to youth agression, as the youths that play can become conditioned to the violence". (

A case of violent youth crime includes the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, this touched off enormous public concern about the possible effects of violent video games.

"the fact that parents are ignoring game ratings because they assume games are for kids" (

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Media Theories - there are three main theories. The first one is the Effects Theory (Hypodermic Syringe Model) - what does the media do to its audiences. The second one is the Uses and Gratifications Theory - what audiences do with the media. The last one is the Reception Theory - what audiences do to the media.

Effects Theory - mass media/communications make people powerless to resist messages the media carries, consumers are 'drugged', 'addicted' or 'hypnotised'.

David Guantlett - The effects model tackles social problems 'backwards' - to understand causes of violence or other behaviour, research should logically begin with those that engaged in the actions. Media effects researchers begin with the idea that the media is to blame e.g.  Jamie Bulger killing they assumed the film 'Child's Play 3' was to blame.

The effects model treats children as inadequate much of the discourse about children and the media positions children as victims - children are in need of protection from the media as thery are defined by what they lack e.g. age DG argues media think children arent clever, psychological reports prove them wrong.

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Social Effects of Video Games - (McDougall and Duncan) - some base their worries on the outcomes of psychological research experiments.

- the fact that a great deal of research published specifically on this subject is not based on any scientific evidence at all, mainly due to children being the main focus of the discourse or concern over media effects.

- They conducted research in primary schools in West Midlands and asked them what games they are currently playing, answers included Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil 4, LA Rush, GTA etc. Evidence that the classification system is ineffective in gatekeeping these kinds of games.

Participation debates article by Morag Davis - Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible people have an equal say in decision making e.g. x factor.

- in the pre-digital era there were few ways in which audiences could make their voice heard e.g. points of view on the bbc or phoning radio station.

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Media Regulation

David Buckingham Participatory media article- web 2.0 as brought about a much broader media revolution - a move to media 2.0.

- people are no longer mere consumers of media, but also producers.

-blogs and forums provide opportunities for ordinary people to have their say, wikis also enable us to collaborate and share knowledge.

- social networking sites - representing ourselves and connecting with other people in new ways.

Music who can make it pay? article (The Guardian) - sales down by 7% last year in the UK and 10% in the US.

- fall of WoolWorths and Zavvi, HMV closed 60 stores due to poor xmas sales.

-radioheard released 'in rainbows' and was sold via an honesty box

- spotify has 500,000 paying customers £9.99 per month all you can listen to

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Riots 2011 - Paul Lewis used Twitter to get information on the riots.

Media Magazine riots article by David Buckingham - the word 'riot' suggests something wild and unrestrained, something fundamentally irrational that cannot be explained.

- riots told to be an '**** of brutality' in which people appeared to lose all rational control.

- riots in the tabloid media coverage the rioters were repeatedly identified as 'young people'.

- iconic image of a black hooded young man which appeared on at least 5 front pages.

- many of the people convicted were by no means young.

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- images of young people are typical of news media coverage 2005 IPSOS/MORI survey, 40% feature young people focused on violence and crime etc.

- The media plays a role in reporting action and expressing the fear and outrage of respectable society, making it attractive to those who might of not thought about becoming involved - e.g. moral panic gives a more general fear of young people the media speak to people that have anxieties (Cohen). Blaming the media is a common aspect of moral panics, relates to concerns about video games.

- rioters coordinated their actions by using Facebook, BlackBerry and Twitter e.g. Twitter was used to start the Tottenham violence and encouraging others to join.

- some politicians called for BlackBerry to suspend their services, as well as turning off the internet.

- blaming the cuts in youth services e.g. clubs closing, unemployment and the removal of EMA.

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Media Regulation

McDougall (2008) states that there is a need to regulate the content "the need for authorities to protect people from material which might cause social harm".

Useful Quotes - "18 hours is the average time spent per week by gamers playing video games" (

- "There is a moral panic over violent video games which has led to authorities to be more suspicious to many kids who already feel cut off from the system" (

- "Such research shows us only that violent play leads to more violent play" (

- "Parents ignoring game ratings, they assume that games are for kids" (

- "The concern is based on the assumption that they contribute to agression and violence among players (

- "Children are more likely to imitate the actions of a character that they identifiy with" (

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- "The new system of classification follows the essential criteria set by The Byron Report, she reccommended a trustworthy and a clear set of symbols that is flexible and futureproof" (

- "The change is that PEGI is now the sole body for classifying video games with the current hybrid system being replaced with two sets of symbols" (

- "Video games are represented as a meaningful form of expression, the gamer feels guilt over their own actions and expressing themselves in the choices they make" (

- "Video games encourage social growth, game play with others learning to work cooperatively" (

- "Video games encourage hand-eye coordination" (

- "Video games are shown to be directly linked with youth agression. because youths can become conditioned to the violence" (

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- "They can become desensitized and lack empathy towards victims" (

- "Can lead towards health problems" (

- "Parents expressed concerns that GTAIV will fall into the hands of younger children" (The Telegraph, May 2008)

- "Parents trusted children to 'self-regulate' their internet behaviour (The Telegraph, May 2008)

- "Four women were subjected to degarding sex assualts, the 19 year old spent hours playing on GTA which sends the players character on a violent killing spree" (mail online, Nov 2008)

Opinions - Violent films are more meaningful than video games, due to the music and visual elements etc.

- films give you less choices than video games.

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