University of Tasmania
Bonner_whole_Masters_thesis.pdf (12.88 MB)

The control of the mass media in Australia : an investigatory-descriptive study

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posted on 2023-05-27, 08:57 authored by Bonner, FJ
Controls over the mass media are effective insofar as they facilitate the achievement of the goals of the organization and the needs of the people associated with it, They are imposed in five areas, the organization, the audience, the sources, the advertisers and the legal. Apart from the last mentioned area, most controls are informal and not even regarded as controls. The most basic organizational control for example is the praise or promotion of workers who produce material consonant with the style and expectations of their superiors. This produces a body of people, particularly in the higher echelons who do not need to be instructed over frequently as to the nature of the product preferred by the owners or directors. The legal controls exist primarily in the laws against defamation, obscenity, blasphemy and sedition and in the various provisions regarding contempt of court. The Customs Regulations affect the mass media only in their concerns with imported magazines and imported film for television. The Posts and Telegraph Act applies restrictions on material sent through the mail and as most daily newspapers are registered, as periodicals to be sent through the mail they come under additional restrictions here. One of the few legal restraints which exists solely in regard to the mass media is the D notice system under which information which could be prejudicial to the defence of Australia is prohibited from being used on or in any mass medium. The press is not controlled to the same extent by Government legislation as are the electronic media and they appear to be more subject to controls by tradition and by a more formal organization structure. In all but one case (Consolidated Press, which recently sold its sole daily paper) the media monopolies are based on newspaper holdings) for initially the Government favoured the applications for television licences of those with experience in the media field. Both the Government instrumentalities, the A.B.C. and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board have been hindered in their operations and development by Government interference in areas which should have been the concern solely of the body itself. Now that most radio and television licences have been allocated, the main concern of the Control Board seems to be with ensuring that programmes do not offend 'good taste' and that a certain amount of good children's, religious and educational programmes are broadcast. Commercial radio and television are controlled by the Control Board, desire to make a profit and the belief, of varying degrees of intensity, that they are performing a community service. A case study of Southern Tasmania examines the day-to-day operations of various media in a restricted area in an attempt to find more about the undocumented controls. Finally it is concluded that the main factor common to all controls over the mass media in Australia is fear, of public relations, of superior's displeasure, of losing money or office, of offending foreign powers or influential people, and a fear of the effects that the mass media may have.


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