Monday, 13 May 2013

Legal Obligations and the BBFC and Ofcom

The film and TV industries are regulated by Ofcom and the BBFC. In my media classes we already covered contractual issues, employment legislation, ethical obligations and legal obligations

Ofcom are a body who are responsible for regulating the TV and radio industries. They operate under the Communications Act 2003 and their main legal duties are to ensure that TV provides high quality and diverse programming from a range of different organisations. People should be protected from watching harmful and offensive material and people in programmes should have their privacy respected and be treated fairly. Ofcom deal with complaints from the public, whether it be that they are unhappy with the way they have been treated by programme makers or offended by the content of a particular programme. For example there was a recent case of a man in a Panorama episode who was promised anonymity but was recognised by his friends.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is a regulatory body that is responsible with the viewing and classification of films before they are released to the public. They used to be called the board of film censors and their role was more about cutting and banning inappropriate content from films. As times changed their role became more about guidance. Every film must be given a classification and passed by the BBFC by law. An example of a very disturbing film that had to be cut before its release is A Serbian Film due to its ‘scenes of sexual and sexualised violence and scenes juxtaposing images of sex and sexual violence with images of children’. The BBFC demanded over four minutes of cuts and as a result there has been no public commercial screening of the uncut version of the film in the UK.

TV and film companies have to abide by many laws and consider the views of the public in many of their day to day decisions. They have to act lawfully when it comes to treatment of their employees and arranging their contracts, as well as in the organisation of the business and ownership of subsidiaries. Media organisations such as TV channels and film companies will also be aware of their ethical obligations and will be more or less committed to promoting certain ethical practices depending on the importance they place on being progressive and responsible. At the end of the day, media companies wish to entertain their audiences but they must also act within the law and consider the implications of what they produce on the wider society.

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