Media Censorship

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Media Laws & Regulations

What is Censorship?

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication such as books, plays, films, television and radio programs, news reports which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, inconvenient, indecent, obscene or offensive to the general mass of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling entity. Censorship has been a hallmark of dictatorships throughout history; the question is whether censorship can be considered a form of democracy or not? Not all censorship is equal, nor does all arise from government or external force. People self-censor all the time; such restraint can be part of the price of rational dialogue; Several U.S. corporations including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and MySpace practice greater levels of self-censorship in some international versions of their online services. To understand censorship, and the impulse to censor, one must recognize that censorship and the ideology supporting it go back to ancient times, and that every society has had customs, taboos, or laws by which speech, dress, religious observance, and sexual expression were regulated.

Censorship can come in various types such as moral, political, corporate, artistic and religious censorship, each attempting to regulate or preserve certain rights in a society however there have been many contradicting views around the capability of censorship to actually protect certain people, beliefs, rights or ideas especially media censorship and whether it is considered a breach of freedom of expression.

Television censorship:
From time to time there have been demands that some form of censorship be imposed on television channels for the exclusion of certain topics, social groups or language from the content of broadcast programming which might be undesirable and unsuitable, these voices were raised demonstrating that Television is now a part of the consciousness of millions of households throughout the world, particularly the young, who spend hours watching a variety of programmes. It is impossible for parents to keep monitoring what they watch, and even if they do, how would they ensure that their constraints and guidelines are being followed? Such people are therefore dependent on the Censorship Board for a sensible compromise when it comes to admissible programming. It is argued that indecent content is almost irresistible to any child; Sex in entertainment is the most frequent target of censorship crusades. In its 1978 decision in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica, the Court ruled that the government could require radio and television stations to air "indecent" material only during those hours when children would be unlikely listeners or viewers. As for Pornography which is not a legal term at all, it is protected by the First Amendment unless it meets the definition of illegal obscenity. Nevertheless, pro-censorship forces’ calls are not motivated solely by morality and taste, but also by the widespread belief that exposure to violence on television and movies causes people to act in destructive ways associating it with scientifically proven facts and statistics however anti-censorship forces argue that there are no evidence that fictional violence causes otherwise stable people to become violent and that correlation studies which seek to explain why some aggressive people have a history of watching a lot of violent TV suffer from the chicken-and-egg dilemma: does violent TV cause such people to behave aggressively, or do aggressive people simply prefer more violent entertainment? There is no definitive answer. But all scientists agree that statistical correlations between two phenomena do not mean that one causes the other. On the other hand, anti-censorship people, because of the cherished First Amendment rights, are extremely sensitive to any forms of censorship. Relative to other countries, however, the United States...
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