Skip to content

Checks and Balances

January 29, 2009


US media regulation, or rather lack of, contrasts sharply to those of organisations such as the BBC. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have the largest say over the media and its broadcastable standards. That said, the FCC along with certain other government branches, tend to swim against the current of the US regulatory ideology of I’m sure it will work itself out.

The commercial marketplace of broadcasters will arrange the goalposts and manage regulations as a common law. Internet and print media differs somewhat, with the First Ammendment protecting both mediums from regulatory bodies. The argument is based on the size of available outlets in each discipline and how they can provide for the public. The finite amount of space for radio and TV means they are more manageable commodities than the internet and print, which together have a freer reign.

Cable TV is less regulated, and the growing feeling that network news is a pretty pointless venture for fair and balanced reporting seems to be strong. So if you can’t rely on any particular channel for a neutral and objective approach to news what can you do? 

Well, take your biased news channels and pit them off against each other. Watching Fox for their conservative pro-Republican stance and offsetting it by CNN or MSNBC will at least give you both sides of the fence even if neither is giving much time to the other’s point of view. By the very nature of their slant you can just about gather the opposition’s stance, albeit through a channel-change.

The blue-tinged PBS, CNN and MSNBC do tend to harbour leftist ideals regardless of their mission statements or reporting solidity. In the red corner, weighing in with a hefty 17 million cable subscribers, is Fox News, the Rupert Murdoch machine and often-criticised mouthpiece of the right.

Regardless of the apparent lack of  hands-on media regulation in the United States, it seems to just about hold itself together. Ridges in the rug are smoothed out even if it isn’t set all that straight to begin with. The FCC tends to monitor or oversee the commercial market of self-regulation without wading in all that often. When there is outcry or a widespread expectation of engagement the FCC will step in to calm the waters.

Print publications have their camps erected in much the same way as the UK. Comparitive freedom is much greater than that of broadcast media, instead enjoying protection by the First Ammendment of the Constitution of the nation. The spread of competition frees up the print world, but as the same legal prowess is extended to the internet and websites offering the news, it will inevitably result in a fight between the tangibles.

As the late great comedian George Carlin proclaimed , “…the media whips up the frenzy, the legislature passes it, the executive signs it, and the judicial branch okays it sometime later when it gets to them.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: