What media regulation is
Reasons for Regulation in Australia
Protecting vulnerable audiences
The Australian public believes that the media is large and powerful and we need to protect vulnerable audiences from it. Although these claims are hard to prove, we believe that the media can have dangerous effects on certain members of the public and we can use media regulation to shield them from these effects.
Vulnerable audiences can be seen as a range of people - but often includes children and minors, the elderly and minorities. This rationale stems from the fear of copycat behavior, the idea that vulnerable audiences may copy
Examples of protecting vulnerable audiences include:
- The Children's Television Standards which give specific rules about what can appear on children's media and advertising.
- Age restricted classifications by the Classification Board.
- Self-regulated community policies on social media platforms such as Youtube and Facebook that keep defamatory or illegal media of their platforms.
Whilst this style worked well with traditional media broadcasting, the sheer amount of media that can be accessed on a global scale makes protecting the access to media difficult to control.
Informing the public
Many classification based schemes are based around the idea that audiences want to know what is in a media product before they consume it. This is so that people can be protected from material that they find offensive.
Examples of informing the public include:
- The National Classification Code which gives audiences information about the content of media including films and video games.
- Social media sites such as Facebook who may warn viewers if a video or photo is particularly graphic before they can view them.
Regulators are increasingly needing to rely on media producers self classifying their own media or using automated programs to decide what is in it. This can lead to issues such as producers mis-classifying their own product or others taking advantage of automated systems.
Protecting cultural identity
In Australia we have rules in place to ensure that there is Australian content on our screens and radio. This is so Australia has a strong media industry but also so Australian stories are told in our media, and our culture is reflected on our screens.
Examples of protecting cultural identity include:
- Commercial television stations must broadcast 55% of Australian content, which also includes certain quotas for children's shows.
- The ABC's charter states that one of it's functions is to "provide broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community."
- Australian commercial radio is required to play at least 55% Australian-performed music between 6.00am and midnight.
Without these rules, most of our television and radio would be filled with cheaper to import US media products. However, there are no rules for Australian quotas on streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. There are also no quotas for Australian cinemas to play Australian films.
Ensuring a range of views
Australia has media ownership rules so that we have a diversity of owners of our