– A rule or directive made and maintained by an authority
The media industry in the UK is heavily regulated which means it is controlled by a strict set of rules.
The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) are the board responsible for regulation in the film and cinema sectors. They award BBFC Age Ratings certificates that indicate what audience is appropriate for each film and cinema text.
In 2011, the BBFC came underfire for rating “The Woman In Black” as a 12A which means it’s appropriate for children aged 12 and over, and children aged under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The Woman In Black was the most complained about film of all time with 134 complaints in total being received by BBFC.
As a result of this, the BBFC made a regulatory decision to offer the creators of the text two options; the first was a rating of 15 without cuts being made to the film, and the second was the option to cut certain scenes to maintain the 12A certificate.
I believe these options were given with the legal constraints of The Obscene Publications Act in the minds of the BBFC. The Woman in Black featured “dark and unsettling” scenes which were not deemed appropriate for 12 year old children. In regards to this decision, I believe it was in the commercial interests of the film’s creators to cut out the scenes to gain the broadest audience they could for the largest financial yield.
PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is responsible for the regulation of the games sector in Europe.
They regulate games texts in a similar way to the BBFC in that they award PEGI Ratings age certificates to indicate what audience they determine is appropriate for each game.
In 2011, PEGI were challenged by the public on their age rating of the WII game “WeDare”. WeDare is a party game that faced initial dispute over the appropriate PEGI rating due to it’s “mild sexual innuendo”, but overall was awarded a PEGI 12 rating and a “Parental Guidance Advised” sticker to ensure the age rating was not undermined.
On face-value, WeDare is a silly animated game that features small challenges such as flying like a bird through the movement of your body and is inarguable not inappropriate for 12 year olds on the ethical grounds of one’s safety and the legal constraints of corruption of one’s mind, however it was advertised in a very different way.
The YouTube advertisement for WeDare featured adults in work attire using the Wii remote to represent falick objects and the positioning of the players was sexually suggestive and highly inappropriate for children.
PEGI faced their own legal constraints in this case as 8.3/i of their Codes of Conduct states “An advertisement shall accurately reflect the nature and content of the product it represents”, however WeDare publishers argued that it was not misleading advertising as “the off-screen game play can be whatever you want it to be” and the gameplay featured in the advertisement does not specify how the game should be played.
PEGI considered the commercial and financial interests of all parties and concluded that WeDare could maintain their PEGI 12 rating so long as the online advertisement was taken down immediately as “an imperative first measure”. I believe this was a sensible and wise decision and it didn’t compromise the aims and success of PEGI or WeDare.
PCC (Press Complaints Commission (recently replaced by Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the regulating board for the newspaper and magazine sector in the UK.
They regulate under the Editor’s Code of Practice which contains the ethical and legal constraints they, and all press companies, must abide by.
In 2010, Dannii Minogue complained to the PCC in regards to a Daily Record article announcing her pregnancy before her 12-week scan. This was a breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice as the newspaper were aware that she had not yet had her scan and thus the complaint was upheld. PCC deemed the publication of the story as “a gross intrusion into her private life”, however the newspaper article argued that the news of the pregnancy was already public domain before the story was published.
PCC stated in their adjudication that there was no excuse for the publication of this news as it is “a matter of common sense [that] newspapers and magazines should not reveal pregnancy before the 12-week scan” and they claim they “had no hesitation in upholding the complaint”.
In my opinion, PCC could also have considered the media legal constraints in this case such as the Defamation Act of 2003 which allows Minogue to protect her reputation. This could have strengthened their argument and further justified their decision to uphold the complaint as Daily Record was spreading already-public news.
ASA (Advertising Standards Association) are the regulators for the advertising sector in the UK.
They enforce Advertising Codes which are a set of rules all advertisements must consider and abide by.
To name one example of ASA regulation, in 1996, the ASA received 50 complaints regarding fashion company Benneton’s new poster advertising campaign. The poster advert featured three hearts with “black, white, yellow” written beneath.
Benetton began an advertising campaign called “The United Colours of Benetton” in 1984 which featured models of different races wearing their products. In 1984, the campaign evolved into “The United Countries of Benetton” and involved the use of country flags. Over the years, the campaign continued to evolve and feature cultural and racial diversity.
Eventually Benetton’s campaign grew so large that they had a stable platform of wealth and support for their company and their controversial ideologies. However, Benetton’s campaign began to follow a powerful and more raw path, beginning to feature images of breastfeeding, dead bodies, victims of HIV and prisoners on Death Row.
Throughout their campaigns the ASA received numerous complaints, but I believe their understanding of Benetton’s intentions and messages outweighed their moral and legal constraints which states the adverts should have been removed.
OFCOM (The Office of Communications) is the regulation authority for broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries in the UK.
They regulate all TV and Radio texts under their Broadcasting Codes which are the ethical and legal constraints of which all TV and Radio texts should be created under.
In 2008, BBC Radio 2 broadcasted the Russell Brand show that breached the “generally accepted standards” and “adequate protection for members of the public from unwarranted infringements of privacy” sections of the Broadcasting Code. The BBC received 45,000 complaints following the “gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning” prank phone calls performed by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to actor Andrew Sachs. These prank calls involved lewd messages claiming Russell had slept with Sachs’ granddaughter and Ofcom fined the BBC £15,000. Ofcom said the scale of the fine “reflects the extraordinary nature and seriousness of the BBCs failures and the resulting breaches of the code”.
I believe this was an appropriate response by Ofcom as they strongly maintained their ethical and legal binds under the Broadcasting Codes and demonstrated the importance of them not only as an example to the BBC, but to the public. This played in the commercial interests of Ofcom and may have enhanced their reliability and image to the public, allowing them to be regarded as a strong and responsible company with the public’s interests at heart.
However, as mentioned under Structure and Ownership, the BBC yield millions every year and could easily afford the fine without any issue and Brand later took to Twitter to mock the fine by saying he’ll “put BBC fine on [his] expense account”. This, to me, demonstrates that the BBC have such high reputation and power that they can commit whatever acts they please without fear, as no fine or complaints can affect them.
Regulations Within My Own Media Texts
Under the Structure and Ownership section I mentioned that I faced ethical and legal constraints when creating my advert. Amongst these constraints I also had to consider the ASA’s regulatory codes to ensure my advert could be successful. I insured that my advert abides by all codes including Code 03 – Misleading Advertising. To ensure I was promoting the product realistically within my majestic advert I used multiple shots of the protagonist using the product correctly. The setting and post-production such as the music used enhanced the theme of the scent and did not give any untrue illusions about the purpose or properties of the product.