Mc Quail (p. 1) defines media regulation as “the whole process of control or guidance, by established rules and produces applied by governments and other political and administrative authorities to all kinds of Media activities”. Several ways in which the media are regulated include governmental legislations and media self-regulation. The advancement in technology and the exponential growth in the media industry as well as the demand for innovative information, deregulation however breaks the barriers that stifle the media industry and enhance its growth.
This essay will draw examples of why are media regulated in Trinidad and Tobago and show the advantages and disadvantages. Mc Quail, (2005 p. 6) states, “Regulation by its very nature sets limits to freedom which is the most basic principle of democratic societies”. Media regulations were designed to control the content of the media as to protect the public and individual rights and interests as well as to ensure that universal standards of decency are met.
Also, to shape the Market to encourage healthy competition and avoid monopolies, as well as to ensure technology meets requirements and world standards to allow access to the industry by investors and competitors. The dependency of the society on the media would mean management is key, therefore; media regulations are the management system. Mc Quail, (2005, P. 7) notes, “the surface reasons given conceal other purposes (especially the interest of the state)”. In 1997, Basdeo Panday then Prime Minister accused the media of publishing untruth and bias articles.
In 1999, he wrote a letter to the President of the Inter-American Press Association as two years prior he had refused to sign their Declaration of Chapultepec until it dealt with issues regarding integrity in the media. Mr. Panday claimed that the Declaration of Chapultepec did not support the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. In addition, he proposed the Declaration of Port of Spain, which consisted of Code of Practice and Code of Ethics for the media industry. This declaration was directly opposite to the Declaration of Chapultepec and the media did agree with it.
Although Media Regulations are there to protect and support the government, it should not take away from the constitutional rights that guarantee freedom of the press and the media. Fundamentally, the disadvantage of media regulations is that if it is abused it can be used to dictate and stifle the media industry. Saith (2004, p. 9) states that media regulations include “monitoring the sector to ensure compliance with license conditions and relevant laws”. Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall along with Christopher Seon was found guilty of criminal contempt on 22. 4. 2010 for discussing matters concerning an ongoing murder trial on their daily radio programme. According to Mc Quail (2005, p. 7) media regulations includes supporting the justice system. Mr. Hall and Mr. Seon interfered with the justice system as they commented on the case while it was in process, which had the potential of causing the outcome of the case. In doing so they broke media regulations. Justice Volney was very vocal regarding the power of the media and the influence of media personalities.
Ultimately, the advantage of media regulations is that it sees the bigger picture in that it addresses the consequences before the actions, thereby ensuring protection, decency, and order within the media industry. Media regulations consist of several facets. There are advantages and disadvantages to regulating the media, but essentially the core is to harness growth and advancement. In a democratic society where freedom is a part of the constitution, it is necessary to ensure that this freedom is not abused.
The media industry is always advancing and changing, as a result if regulations are not put in place society’s freedom would be abused. The government also has the responsibility to encourage development and expansion rather than dictate the media to fulfill their own desires.
References Mc Quail, D. (2005). Mc Quail’s Mass Communication Theory. London Saith, L. K. (2004). The National Policy on Broadcast and The Broadcast Industry [PDF documents]. Retrieved from http://www. fastforward. tt/files/cms/National_Broadcast_Policy. pdf