Regulation of Media Industries
When the years roll by and the modern day changes, humans change to.
Our music, fashion, taste and, even, views of what is appropriate. A prime example is what is appropriate for audiences, of a certain age, to watch in visual entertainment. Since so many viewpoints, on what is appropriate, would only complicate things – certain boards are set in place to age rate programs on TV and Films, so that children do not see anything inappropriate for their age.
BBFC (British Broad of Film Classification)
Since 1912 BBFC is an “independent, non governmental body”(1) that classified films (while video/DVDs and video games since 1984), whose “primary aims are to protect children and other vulnerable groups from harm”(1). They rate anything used through TV or film – from films, to trailers, to advertisements (and even video games) – to deem what is U (for universal, and appropriate for all) to ‘R18’ (“Adults works for licensed premises only”). In order to gain a possible idea of what is appropriate the BBFC has used “extensive public consultation, research and the accumulated experience of the BBFC over many years”(1) to create their guideline which “all classification decisions are based on.” Even going do far as to use the views – “in a recent consultation”(1) – of “over 8’700 members of the public”(1).
How the system works for BBFC is the following:
“Films for theatrical release are normally classified by at least two Examiners using the published Guidelines. In most cases the decision is ratified by a Senior Examiner, but if the Examiners are in any doubt or fail to agree, or if important policy issues are involved, the work may be seen by other members of the Board up to, and including, the Director and Presidential team. Occasionally it is necessary to take specialist advice about the legal acceptability of film content or its potential for harm. DVDs are normally seen by one Examiner, particularly when they are viewing the DVD version of a cinema film which has already been classified. However, opinions from other Examiners may be required for more difficult works.”(2)
This take place due to the fact that the “examiners look at issues such as discrimination, drugs, horror, imitable behavior, language, nudity, sex, sexual violence, theme and violence when making decisions. They also consider context, the tone and impact of a work (eg how it makes the audience feel) and even the release format (for example, as DVDs are watched in the home, there is a higher risk of underage viewing).”(2)
The BBFC works in so many ways to protect the ‘under aged’ from inappropriate that in recent years the BBFC “replaced the Independent Mobile Classification Board (IMCB) in providing the independent framework that underpins the Mobile Operators’ code of practice, established in 2004, for the self regulation of content on mobile”(1). This allows them to deem if still pictures, video and audio/video material (and phone games) are being age rated correctly. And allow mobile operators to “calibrate the filters that use to restrict access to Internet content via mobile networks by those under 18.”(1)
ASA (ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY)
The ASA board’s job is similar to the BBFC’s, except the ASA handles mainly Advertisements.
Using “the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice” ASA act on “complaints and proactively checking the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements.”(3)
And like BBFC, ASA have a system to ensure that Ads are appropriate for people to watch. And the system (from reference 4) is:
1. Understanding: We’ll be an authority on advertising and active on issues that cause societal concern. We’ll be open to calls for regulatory change, acting purposefully and in a timely fashion, while being fair and balanced in our assessment of the evidence and arguments
2. Support: We’ll provide support to advertisers to help them create responsible ads. We’ll increase, improve and better target our advice and training so every business has access to the information and support it needs
3. Impact: We’ll spend more time on matters that make the biggest difference. Focusing on our existing remit, we’ll spend less time tackling ads that cause little detriment to consumers or on the vulnerable. But, where a complaint indicates that the rules have been broken, we will always do something
4. Proactive: We’ll be proactive and work with others. We’ll use a wide range of information to identify and tackle problems to make sure ads are responsible, even if we haven’t officially received a complaint.
5. Awareness: We’ll increase awareness of the ASA and CAP. We will make sure that the public, civil society and the industry know who we are and what we can do, so they can engage with us when they need to, and have confidence in our work.
With this in mind I began to look into a film, a TV program, and an advertisement that has been banned due both the BBFC’s or ASA’s rule and regulations.
FILM: Love Camp 7 – 1969
This film, though considered a cult classic, has been banned from the UK since 1988 – and supposedly even to this day remains banned by the BBFC.
(Though supposedly – according to ‘The Hollywood News’ website – the film “submitted as late as 2002 for a potential re-release on the home markets, where the film board again once again rejected it due to the aforementioned reasons.”(5))
The film shows “two female American officers (played by Maria Lease and Kathy Williams) who volunteer to enter a Nazi camp undercover to gain information from, and possibly rescue, an inmate. The camp’s female inmates serve as prostitutes for German officers and are subjected to humiliating treatment, torture, and rape.”(5)
It was banned when viewed by the BBFC, when they “took the stance that the film featured ‘eroticised depictions of sexual violence and repeated association of sex with restraint, pain, and humiliation.’ The official BBFC site lists the film as being rejected as there were repeated sequences [that] were in clear contravention of the Board’s strict policy on depictions of sexual violence, which prohibits scenes that eroticise or endorse sexual assault.’”(6)
At first I was surprised that the mention of Nazis was not the main reason for its ban. But then watching the trailer alone, which contained nudity, gore and – even porn, I could see why it was banned on plot alone. It made me feel sick to the stomach.
The film was a violation of respect towards women in my opinion. I believe that the BBFC banned it because women would have been horrified, and perhaps begin to fear that they would be treated in a same manner. However I feel that this film may have made the male population worried as well, letting the women see female kill men in such a manner they perhaps believed that something similar to them would happen.
TV: SCUM – 1979
Used as part of the Channel 4’s ‘Banned Season’ programme – which “first aired in April 1991 over three weeks and saw the broadcast of a number of films and documentaries which had previously been banned from British television or cinema.”(7), and originally made for BBC’s ‘Play for Today’ – a “British television anthology drama series, produced by the BBC and transmitted on BBC1 from 1970 to 1984”(9) – the film “the brutality of life inside a British borstal” which followed through the eyes of young offender Carlin. But due to the level of violence, it was removed broadcast.
From watching the trailer it does look really violent – and parents may have thought that it would encourage teenagers to get violent. Yet the worry does not stop there. One part had a “violent gang rape scene and the subsequent gory suicide of the victim.”(7)
Just on this alone could be one of the reasons – or the reason – why the ASA (and BBFC) would have banned this from being put on Television. Though this would have made a great of deal people uncomfortable, there are a couple of people who would have been considered more.
Anyone who had been a rape victim would have been uncomfortable, and distressed. The scene of suicide may have caused a viewer, who has attempted suicide, and their family members, or anyone who’s thinking of suicide uncomfortable as well. And anyone who’s lost a family ember to suicide would have been distressed.
ADVERT: Paddy Power – on the Oscar Pistorius trial – 2014
The Advert appeared around the same time as the “trial of South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, for the alleged premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp”(10). The advert from the gambling company contained “an image similar to an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated “IT’S OSCAR TIME”, “MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS” and “WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY”(10).
The advert was brought to the attention to ASA via public outcry, and in my opinion quiet rightly so. Though Paddy Power explained that they did not mean to cause distress or offence, and that the advert was a one off – the advert was banned, and has been ordered that it must not ‘Appear in its current form’.
I believe what the outcry was that a heartbreaking ordeal – the trial of whether a man had murdered his girlfriend – had been used for profit purposes. It would have been a distraught time for the family all ready, and yet they had to content with this advert too. And according to ASA advert the ad “breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 4.1 and 4.3 (Harm and offence).”