Technology/Television Censorship term paper 9956

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Television Censorship

WHAT IS CENSORSHIP?

"Censorship is the supervision and control of the information and ideas

that are circulated among the people within a society. In modern times,

censorship refers to the examination of books, periodicals, plays, films,

television and radio programs, news reports, and other communication media for

the purpose of altering or suppressing parts thought to be objectionable or

offensive. The objectionable material may be considered immoral or obscene,

heretical or blasphemous, seditious or treasonable, or injurious to the national

security. Thus, the rationale for censorship is that it is necessary for the

protection of three basic social institutions: the family, the church, and the

state.

Censorship and the ideology supporting it go back to ancient times. Every

society has had customs, taboos, or laws by which speech, play, dress, religious

observance, and sexual expression were regulated(Microsoft Encarta 95)."

CENSORSHIP OF OBSCENITY

"The beginning of a new legal approach may be traced to the action of the

federal courts in the 1930s, when they held that Irish author James Joyce's

Ulysses was not obscene and could be freely passed through customs. The courts

ruled that the use of "dirty words" in "a sincere and honest book" did not make

the book "dirty." Since the 1950s many obscenity cases involving books,

magazines, and film have been brought before the Supreme Court. In the cases

during the 1970s the court ruled that laws against obscenity must be limited "

to works which, taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest in sex; which

portray sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and which, taken as a whole,

do not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." The

Court has further held that obscenity should be determined by applying

"contemporary community standards" rather than national standards (Microsoft

Encarta 95)."

WHO DOES TELEVISION CENSORSHIP EFFECT?

CENSORSHIP AFFECTS MINORS AND ADULTS

Does censorship affect both minors and adults? One incident in Ohio led

a mother of a 5 year old boy to believe so. The boy's mother attributed his

actions to the influence of the popular MTV cartoon show Beavis and Butthead.

In response to watching this cartoon the boy set his house on fire which killed

his younger sister. In response to criticism about the show's violence and

appeal to younger viewers, MTV moved the cartoon to a later time slot, to

prevent young children from viewing it (Microsoft Internet Explorer).

In another incident a teen-aged boy was killed and two others seriously

injured while lying down along the centerline of a highway. The boys were

imitating a scene from the movie The Program. The accident and the publicity

that followed prompted Touchstone films to remove the scene from the movie, but

leaving many other violent scenes, including one in which a student purposely

smashes his head through a car window (Microsoft Internet Explorer).

I also believe that not only children but perhaps an "impressionable

adult" for whatever reason could feel moved to commit these same acts of

violence that are portrayed on uncensored movies and television. Many of these

movies contain countless instances of torture and unnatural suffering, mass

killings and ethnic persecution. Some of these same crimes are being committed

as we speak by minors and adults all over the world. Who is to say that people

are not influenced by viewing a movie that lacked proper censorship?

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GUIDELINES THAT GOVERN TELEVISION CENSORSHIP?

FILM INDUSTRY GUIDELINES

"One US industry, the film industry has for many years practiced a form

of self-censorship. In the 1920's, responding to public demands for strong

controls, the Motion Picture Association of America imposed on its constituents

a Production Act; compliance with its standards gave a movie a seal of approval.

A system of film classification was begun in 1968 and has been revised several

times since then. Films are given ratings, as follows: G (general audiences),

PG (Parental Guidance advised), PG-13 (may not be suitable for pre-teens), R

(persons under age 17 not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult

guardian), and NC-17 (persons under age 17 not admitted, replaced the X rating

in 1990) (Microsoft Encarta 95)"

TELEVISION AND RADIO GUIDELINES

"For the television and radio industries the Federal Communications

Commission (FCC) has generally established vague rules about program content

containing an implied threat that a license can be revoked for repeated poor

judgment involving program content. In 1987 the FCC responded to public

complaints by adopting measures to restrict the use of explicit language about

sex and bodily functions from the broadcasting media. Another code, designed by

the National Association of Broadcasters, is voluntarily adhered to by station

operators. The major networks also have their own self-regulating system. The

Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), for example, has a staff of people who

review scripts and watch everything that is aired on CBS-TV, including

commercials; every contract with a producer provides that the project is subject

to approval under this system (Microsoft Encarta 95)."

PRIVATE ACTION GROUP GUIDELINES

"In the US, many different private groups attempt to influence radio and

television and broadcasters and other communication media to suppress material

that they consider objectionable. Religious, ethnic, and racial groups have

tried to prevent plays, movies and television programs from being presented

because of elements they deem offensive."

"One private group, the American Civil Liberties Union, promotes the

open flow of all types of information in the belief that individuals should have

free access and opportunities for the exercise of their personal discretion and

that no group should limit the availability of the resources from which such

choices are made (Microsoft Encarta 95)."

TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPETITION AND DEREGULATION ACT OF 1995

THE GOALS

"This Act is intended to establish a national policy framework designed

to accelerate rapidly the private sector deployment of advanced

telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by

opening all telecommunications markets to competition, and to meet the following

goals:

1) To promote and encourage advanced telecommunications networks, capable

of enabling users to originate and receive affordable, high-quality voice, data,

image, graphic, and video telecommunications services.

2) To improve international competitiveness markedly.

3) To spur economic growth, create jobs, and increase productivity.

4) To deliver a better quality of life through the preservation and

advancement of universal service to allow the more efficient delivery of

educational, health care, and other social services (Telecommunications Bill

1995, Internet)."

THE FINDINGS

The Congress makes the following findings:

· "Competition, not regulation, is the best way to spur innovation and the

development of new services. A competitive market place is the most efficient

way to lower prices and increase value for consumers. In furthering the

principle of open and full competition in all telecommunications markets,

however, it must be recognized that some markets are more open than others."

· "More competitive American telecommunications markets will promote United

States technological advances, domestic job and investment opportunities,

national competitiveness (Telecommunication Bill of 1995, Internet)"

VIEWERS HAVE OPTION TO WATCH VIOLENCE ON TELEVISION

One Associate Night Editor, Daniel C. Stevenson, wrote a column called,

"Viewers Have Option To Watch Violence On Television". In this column, he

states, "It should not be the responsibility of the government to decide what is

good and bad for viewers, it should be the responsibility of the viewers

themselves. A film or book that is vulgar or horrifying to one person might be

seen as beautiful art or entertainment to another. Such value judgments should

be left up to each person, not formulated by the government. Any kind of

government control that seeks to expose children only to 'good' events and

actions is a violation of an important freedom—the freedom to see both sides of

an event, to observe both good and bad (Microsoft Internet Explorer)."

Another viewpoint is that of Pat Paulsen, TV personality, on January 7,

1968. He states, "Many people feel that censorship is a violation of Freedom of

Speech…Bull Feathers…Censorship is NOT unconstitutional. Censors have the right

to censor what you hear. Without censorship of television, how else can you,

the American public, have the protection you want from vulgar scenes, over-

exposed bodies and all the other sights you like to see…Without the censors we

would all be at the mercy of the warped minds of the television industry and

Deity only knows what you would see, probably some of the most foul, nasty,

disgusting, vulgar, funniest, greatest stuff in the world (Microsoft Internet

Explorer)."

CENSORSHIP OF TELEVISON - VIEWPOINTS

SHOULD TELEVISION SHOWS BE CENSORED?

One private individual, Mitchell Gene Zaninelli states, "I will start

with the censorship of television. The government of the United States of

America has been getting very involved in what they think is appropriate to be

on television. I want to know why they get to decide what I want to watch. I

feel that it should be a person's choice. They say they are concerned with what

children are viewing, or that some things such as nudity and swear words offend

people. Parents should monitor what their children watch. If a parent does not

want their child to see something in particular, then it is the parent's

responsibility to see that they do not, not the government's (Microsoft Internet

Explorer)."

What do you think? Should our government continue to enforce television

and film censorship as it has been? Or should all forms of censorship be

abolished completely?

THE PURPOSE

"It is the purpose of this Act to increase competition in all

telecommunications markets and provide for an orderly transition from regulated

markets to competitive and deregulated telecommunications markets consistent

with the public interest, convenience, and necessity (Telecommunications Bill of

1995, Internet)."

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