Audience/Text Relationship & Representations

So how do you link the Big Ideas –


to the ‘trickier’ concepts of how Postmodern media:

  • Challenges the audience/text relationship
  • Plays with the Conventions of Representation/Manipulates Time and Space


Nothing is new, nothing is true, nothing is certain.

Intertextuality (pastiche/parody) - if you don't get the reference - if you are not culturally competent - you don't get the text - an exclusive club. 

Loss of Historical Reality - audiences view the representation more valid than the reality

Self-reflexivity - presenting the pretence and buying into it is usually all that is required - when the pretence is exposed by breaking the 4th wall or showing the text's construction (cameras etc) then that relationship is challenged

Hypereality - the audience are challenged to discern reality from constructed reality (reality TV, social media etc). The Shadows on the wall are reality.

Consumer Culture - the audience becomes consumer - often unwittingly so 'hoodwinked' on the reason for the text

Hegemony - the true purpose of a text is often disguised for other purposes. Ulterior motives - audience/buyer beware!

Grand Narratives/Absolute Truths - what audiences expect is no longer certain - everything is challenged, played with.

Representation/Time and Space

Nothing is new, nothing is true and nothing is certain

Self-reflexivity - time and space is destroyed - time and space is confused.

Intertextuality - copies and references texts from other times, places. Loss of historical reality.

Hypereality - what is reality and what is a representation of reality (social Media/Reality TV). Shadows on the wall.

Grand Narratives/Absolute Truths - challenged, played, subverted - all that we know to be true is no longer true or certain.

Mini-narratives - everyone's truth is valid so everyone's representation is valid.





Media Regulation – the big idea – Gatekeeping v Freedom of speech

We noticed that many of you spent too much time, describing in too much detail, the various case studies and examples. You need the bare bones for these as you need to spend the rest of the time, broaching the key contexts and debates in order to maximise your marks.

The key concepts that should be on your radar are:


- A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something, for example via a city gate or bouncer, or more abstractly, controls who is granted access to a category or status.

So in terms of Media Regulation – they are either the officially recognised bodies that regulate the media or the individual groups elected by the Media platform themselves.

  • ASA
  • UK ONLINE HARMS BILL  – to be made law next year
  • THE USERS – you and me
  • REGULATORS ON EACH PLATFORM i.e. The Oversight Board on Facebook
    • but are they “emptying the ocean with an eyedropper”?
  • You and Me – the consumer.

The main debate about Gatekeepers is that:

  • They regulate content and therefore the contributors – they are powerful!
  • The Internet promised to allow free speech and expression – and has now come unstuck because of this – ‘move fast and break things has become move fast and fix things.’
  • Gatekeeping is dependent on many external factors that relate often, to the culture, politics, country, religion where the media is produced – in other words – gatekeeping is culturally reactive.

How do you resolve the ever present argument of:

“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.” — Noam Chomsky


  • Freedom of Speech vs Protection from Harm
  • Pluralist vs Moralist
  • Gatekeeping vs Democratisation
  • Media Regulation will never be watertight – it has to react to technological advancements/convergence.
  • Media Regulation changes over time – historically it reacts to technology and cultural zeitgeists.
  • Media Regulation is closely linked to:
      • Moral Panics
  • Media Regulation can be covert, subversive and ‘invisible’ – think of Chinese interference with internet access
  • Media Regulation has to determine the minefield of:
      • Public v. private
  • Postmodern society is built on the foundations of ‘no absolute truths’ and mini- narratives and Regulation contradicts this zeitgeist.
      • Self Regulation
      • Begs the question that perhaps China has got it right – the re-introduction of the absolute truths/the grand narratives through the back door of covert and subversive regulation of its citizens accessing the internet, may in fact make life simpler, safer and easier to navigate?


Even hotter off the press

Mark Zuckerberg is now agreeing to tighter regulation of the internet with the caveat that if really offensive, harmful, extreme content does get past their moderators or algorithms (their own gatekeepers), they, the Tech Giants, should still not be prosecuted. Read the full article by clicking on the headline.

Zuckerberg suggests ‘thoughtful reform’ of Section 230 – big tech’s liability shield – and says platforms should have to prove they have systems in place to identify and remove unlawful content

  • In testimony prepared for a congressional hearing on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg laid out steps for ‘thoughtful reform’ for the Section 230 law
  • He acknowledged calls from lawmakers for changes to the law, which gives companies like Facebook immunity from liability over content posted by users 
  • He said companies should follow best practices for removing damaging material from platforms and demonstrate they have systems in place for identifying it
  • But he said that online services still shouldn’t be held liable for ‘if a particular piece of content evades its detection’
  • Zuckerberg argued that it wasn’t feasible for platforms like Facebook because it has billions of posts per day

Trump, having been banned from Twitter, is going to set up his OWN MEDIA PLATFORM – in light of his banning and the right wing TV channel FOX NEWS even criticizing his recent behaviour. With all his money, he can go somewhere else and create his own media platforms. So will Media ever be regulated with moneyed men in suits being able to ‘rule the roost’?

Read the full article here:

Former Cabinet Minister, Dr Liam Fox has come out to defend free speech on line and protect those who are bullied on line as a result of the J K Rowling recent row. There are some really good phrases and quotes you can use in this article.

Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) | Twitter

He says it would be dangerous to allow a situation to take hold in which ‘newspapers are operating under much stricter laws than their digital counterparts’.

And he will also call on the Government to tackle the social media giants over the ease with which people can use anonymous accounts to pump out messages that would otherwise be illegal.

Dr Fox describes free speech as a ‘basic human right’, adding: ‘Freedom of expression, especially a free press, is a means of underpinning other human rights through the ability to expose abuses and persecution.’ But he points out it has always had some limits, such as incitement to crime and libel.

Read the full article here:

Did you know that in the 1930’s when King Edward VIII was wanting to marry a previously twice divorced American heiress, Mrs Simpson, the newsagents were required to cut out any images of her and articles about her from any imported American newspapers?  The British Press had a gentleman’s agreement with the Monarchy to avoid any ‘gossip’ stories about the Royal Family but of course, the American Press did not. In the end the story got so big, when he abdicated that the previous gentlemen’s agreement was shelved.  A form of Royal regulation existed – a great example of regulation being impacted by the cultural, political and religious zeitgeist of the time.  The Royal Family today though are seen as ‘fair game’ for whatever the press want to publish about them.

How Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson spoke of his 1936 abdication in 1970 interview | Daily Mail Online

Case studies on China censorship and Tech Giants banning Trump.

Chinese State Regulation (Censorship).
Click on the image to see the whole article

‘There have been almost daily anti-BBC articles in Chinese state media since mid-February.

It follows a decision by the UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom to revoke the licence for China’s state-run overseas broadcaster, CGTN. For years, China has broadly criticised Western outlets for reports on affairs in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, saying they should not intervene in China’s “internal affairs”.

But these latest attacks on Western media are a clear escalation.

Chinese domestic media outlets have praised their government for banning the BBC’s World News channel, although it was only available in some international hotels and residential compounds where foreigners live.’

So Chinese Government censorship of the internet is alive and kicking. Do these actions seem justifiable to protect it’s Digital Sovereignty or is the impact harmful for its citizens?

What about The Western Model of Online Regulation?

And you all remember Trump being ceremoniously dethroned by Twitter who argued he was inciting citizens to violent action. This article in Forbes in the USA, argues this was neither an illegal or unfair action. Platforms can ‘dethrone’ whoever they like – terrorists, abusers, extreme political groups – so in this case, it just happened to be the President of the USA!


This is Twitter’s Explaination in a nutshell:

“After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”


Many Trump supporters were arguing it was against the 1st Amendment and therefore an illegal act – however, platforms can apparently refer to their own terms and conditions and this is exactly what they did.

Trump moved to Parler, an app that encouraged free speech, but Parler itself was taken down by down by Amazon, Apple and Google!  The companies pulled support for the “free speech” social network, all but killing the service. Platforms regulating platforms.

This could be a good case study for how internet platforms are endeavoring to tow the line and perhaps do have our best interests at heart. But make sure you put this in context to the fact that in the UK, the new laws on internet harm, won’t be in place to next year and indeed tech giants do not want to ‘police themselves’, Mark Zuckerberg himself is requesting legislation, which at once protects free speech and also regulate against online harm and disinformation.

Online Harms – Laws to be passed in UK to regulate against this

The UK parliament has been debating new laws that should take effect next year in order to regulate the ‘harmful’ side of the internet without encroaching on freedom of speech and pluralism.

It appears that even the ‘Tech Giants’ are going to be included in these new laws where huge fines and even criminal proceedings will be the result of any offensive material that appears on someone’s platform.

Have a read of it and see the key points highlighted with comments by the side.  The technology involved in this process is going to have to be immense as is the ‘gatekeeping’ of it, but the onus seems to be on the platforms themselves, so perhaps the Tech Giants will no longer be able to hide behind Section 230. Smaller companies will have to invest huge amounts of money to ensure their platforms are as ‘safe’ as possible and their responses to complaints etc are as robust as possible.

Click on this link to see comments too on the new proposals. 

Media Regulation – in historical context

Some of the questions in the Media Regulation section of Component 4, are based around examining how regulation works today and how it used to work and the reasons for the changes over time. Read the infographic for some information on just some of the pivotal moments in the history of publishing, news and freedom of speech. It not a definitive list but gives a basic guideline to some key moments.
































































































How regulation on the internet happens without us even knowing it!

Whilst, there are no formal regulations to monitor and censor the internet and the tech giants continue to argue, they do a good job of ‘self-regulating’ content, there are ways that the internet IS BEING REGULATED far beyond our knowledge, reasoning and understanding.

Every time Mrs C, watches a ‘rescue dog’ video on instagram, strange things happen. More dog videos appear!  And it is the same with all our viewing and clicking content – the control of what ‘pops up’ is not within our control

However, what is more worrying is that it is not just the tech giants getting involved in surveillance, algorithms that direct our engagement, governments too are quietly and carefully curating our content.  China is alleged to be a master of this craft. See below.

So the Tech Giants understand our concerns at our fear of being ‘directed’ and ‘managed’ by them and also being at their mercy of seeing harmful, offensive and misleading content. So there are plans afoot to start to self regulate more in the UK – but will these measures go far enough?

So, even though there are no specific laws, rules, legal codes to enforce internet regulation, the regulation will continue to be at the mercy of the platforms and even more worryingly, governments themselves.

WATCH THESE VIDEOS AND MAKE NOTES – they will help with case studies, references, terms to use in any question on Media Regulation, particularly if it relates to how regulation reflects society, reflects changes in politics, reflects the ‘zeitgeist’ of the time or how changes in technology are making it harder for the internet to be regulated.