Audience, effects & censorship

Regulation is a key component in the media world, and a lot of the times media institutions prefer to regulate themselves rather than leave this to the hands of outside bodies that may eventually affect their profit-making.

There’s a lot to think about when talking about regulation:

  • when is it OK to censor something?
  • should children be protected?
  • what makes a text violent enough to be censored?
  • how do we consider what’s best for media audience beyond media effects debates?

In the UK, the governing body that regulates films is the BBFC. It’s got a great student section that details important things like Timeline, History, Legislation, The Rating Process and issues. If you want to look at this in greater depth, it also offers an outstanding reading list — essentially giving your go-to sources that will take your essays to a high critical and analytical level.

A recent example of a censored film that could be interesting to investigate both as a coursework topic and case study is The Interview.

Also worth investigating is how the rating practice of films informs other institutions like the ASA, which rates ads, and Ofcom which regulates TV. You can find excellent material on how advertisements are regulated on the Education Resources link on ASA. Some of the “hot topics” that ASA considers are the following (clicking on them will give you additional information provided by the ASA):

  • Food and drink
  • Alcohol
  • Health and beauty

Ofcom’s own broadcasting code and guidelines are also helpful when considering whether a particular TV or radio text should be censored.

If you’re interested about the regulation system in the US, check out this great documentary about the MPAA.


Close to reality

Up for discussion: Choose one of the clips below and identify how it makes use of different genres as well as how attempts to appeal to the audience. OR Using Abercrombie’s realism theory how does the text attempt to hide the production process? OR Choose one of the shows and examine how it tries to maximize publicity through use of inter-related media. OR How is it reinforcing stereotypes according to Dyer?

Four Rooms

Educating the East End

The Pregnant Man

The Great British Bake Off

19 Kids and Counting

The Bachelorette