"Deregulation would lead to an expansion in choice without loss of quality".

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Deregulation would lead to an expansion in choice without loss of quality”.

To discuss this question I will first introduce the definition of regulation and the methods that are used to govern media industries around the globe. This will enable me to understand what regulation is and will prepare me to concentrate on deregulation. To begin with deregulation I will look at the American Media and the effects of the Telecommunication Bill 1996, which helped to introduce deregulation into the American Radio industry. From this I will be able to show the effects of deregulation and I can compare it with the recent Communication Bill being introduced in the UK by the end of 2003. With my findings and discussion I will be able to conclude whether or not deregulation would lead to diversity, without loss of quality.

In the British media industry various media text consists of guidelines, which by legislation or by code of practise, ensures that it is socially responsible towards the audiences it is targeted. An early example of this can be seen when the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) was set up in 1927 under a royal charter with John Reith as Director-General. Reith used the charter to prevent the government from having any direct involvement with the running of the BBC. Reith also declared that the BBC should provide to its audience;

“…entertainment, education and information.”

It wasn’t just the content of the text that was being regulated. The technical aspects were also followed by guidelines to ensure that the public would receive clear signals onto their transistors. For example the Radio Authority, under the Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1949, 1967 and 1998 states that a radio in the UK must;

  • Use only a certain frequency
  • Use only a certain power and certain level of emission
  • Not cause undue interference
  • Use within a certain geographical area
  • Use apparatus which meets specified requirements &
  • Have access for inspection by Agency staff and close down in the event of interference being caused.

So with regulation the media industry tries to ensure that radio content and the way is broadcasted is done by a standard level of quality. In all there are three different methods to regulate the editorial content of radio industry around the world. This is largely due to the kind relationship the media industry share with the politics and policy makers of the country it is broadcasted in. These are known as the following: Free Market, State Control and Social Responsible.

The free market model means minimum intervention from governments, and other forms of hierarchical power. An example of this is can be seen in the country, USA. Because of its political policy of free speech, as governed by the constitution, not much regulation is done on the kind of media output broadcasted on radio. Furthermore the Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated all radio rules. This meant no restriction on cross media ownership of the media. 

State control model can be defined as full intervention from governments, bodies, or a person in hierarchical power. It is very much opposite to the free market model. An example of this is seen in country of Italy. Its Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns and controls the largest newspapers and broadcasters. Other examples are seen in far eastern countries like China and North Korea whose government controls what is published or broadcasted on media texts.

Social responsible model has some intervention from either government or regulatory bodies to ensure a level of decency is governed in media texts. For example the British broadcast regulator “The Radio Authority” ensures that no use of strong languages is heard before the 9:00pm watershed.  It is decided upon the basis for the greater good of society.

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Also regulated is the ownership of the media. An example of this can be seen in the Broadcasting Act 1996. One of its legislation in cross media ownership was that a media organisation could purchase a 20% share control in T.V provided they did not exceed a share interest of 20% in another medium.

Overall there are three known kinds of ownership regulation models used in the media industries. These are known as the Manipulative, Hegemonic and Pluralistic models (Trowler 1996: 63 – 82).

The manipulative model suggests that those who own and control media organisations ...

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