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MDSA01H3 (310)
Chapter 4


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Media Studies
Michael Petit

MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES CHAPTER 4 – PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS  What should be the government’s role in media? o Varies from society to society.  State-Owned media: Propagandic  Most democratic societies: Relatively independent, but not completely, take for example laws which prevent piracy.  When is regulation needed? o In the past this was answered by abstract principles such as free speech and public interest. Pragmatism: An Overview  Pragmatism: the branch of philosophy that assesses truth in terms of effect, outcome and practicality.  Metaphysical philosophers view truth as a transcendental constant waiting to be discovered.  Pragmatists: Truth depends on the degree to which a concept of theory provides us with useful results in the process of solving problems. o Truth is the usefulness of the result to help solve problems.  Metaphysical truths: cannot be fully known.  Pragmatists argue: Believing or disbelief has no real bearing in one’s daily life. o Truth of an idea or action (merit) should be based on tangible results and the possible consequences of supporting or disregarding it.  Emphasize practicality and the American protestant work ethic William James (1842 – 1910)  Harvard professor  Early pragmatic philosopher  Pragmatism and The Meaning of Truth o Popularized Peirce’s work  First to stress practical application of philosophy to one’s life.  “The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite difference it will make to you and me, at definite instants of our life, is this world formula or that world formula be the true one.”  Consequences of individual belief  Believed individuals could grow and mature by addressing personal problems through pragmatic lens.  However, due to this socio-economic comfort, he gave little thought to social conditions. John Dewey (1859-1952)  Theories on the nature of education are tried to his own pragmatic philosophy.  Reconstruction In Philosophy  The Quest for Certainty  Process of knowing and learning about human activity and experience.  Thought is a result of physical beings encountering difficulties and attempting to overcome these difficulties.  We learn from our past experience in order to manage future ones. 1 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES  Thought is practical by nature  Thought metaphysics separated human thoughts from its natural being of practicality  Believed that philosophy should return to correction problems  Expanded his work to social issues, and did much of his studies in educational institutions. o Schools focused on memorization. He felt schools should focus on problem solving skills, which will help build better character and solve social problems. Richard Rorty (1931-2007)  Scholar of analytic philosophy o Branch of thought related to Pragmatism  Found metaphysical philosophy useless, impossible and sterile o Approaches to life are uninspiring o Merely the “search for a way in which one can avoid the need for conversation and deliberation and simply tick off the way things are”  Pragmatism allows for a more profound understanding of human systems and an appreciation for human agency  Relativism was one of the key criticisms against Pragmatism  Action is difficult in a relativistic lens because there is no consistent truth to act upon  Pragmatism abandons the search for underlying truths on a topic  Pragmatism is criticized to have the inability to practically address the problems it looks to solve  Pragmatists are relativistic when it comes to metaphysical theories o All searches for essential truth are equally valid because none of them makes any difference  When lived experiences and situations are discussed, pragmatists only take notice of options which can be discussed, tested, and selected in the process of problem solving o Discuss and debate the advantages and disadvantages  Practical application, social utility, and informed discernment  Pragmatism allows for the judgement of the worth of regulation according to the perceived outcomes and effects of the regulation o Regulatory policy is considered true if it is worthy, good, and clearly benefits American society, or correct social problems o Bad regulation does not provide social benefits or stems from constant, predetermined or uncontested truths and beliefs about the world A Pragmatic Approach to the Government Regulation of Media  Two concepts provide the standards for evaluation within a Pragmatic approach to media o Consequences: The clear effects of a given regulation on society at large  For a regulation to be deemed good, the consequences must be beneficial to society  Tangible results of a belief as the measure of its truth  Consequences are tied to the historical moment o Contingencies: The factors a regulation should address as a result of context and situation  Contingent Factors Influencing Regulation  Current social norms 2 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES  Mediums  Technology  Quality regulation must take into account and respond to the socio-historical factors during its creation  Best regulatory solutions are those that have beneficial consequences according to the contingencies of their historical moment.  American media must respond to a particular set of regular contingencies unique to American context o Factors are regular in their presence but contingent upon one another at any given time o Best regulations balance these factors o Free Speech and Public Interest  Certain regulations need to be put in place which may impede on these rights, but it will be to make the media industry more efficient  Quality regulation considers social norms and political climate  Government regulation versus media self-regulation o Extension of public-interest focus  Media is in the service of the public and should be guided by issues of public concern  Federal Communications Commission: Regulates broadcasting, wire, satellite, and cable services  Federal Trade Commission: Regulates advertising and public relations  Public interest is taken into consideration when deciding what radio stations to license  Sometimes, to avoid government intervention, media outlets self-regulate  Government versus media self-regulation  Free speech versus public interest Issues in the Regulation of American Media Patterns of Media Ownership  Combating Monopoly  Protecting Intellectual Property  Maintaining National Interest Media Content  Promoting Diversity  Managing Morality  Ensuring Accuracy Combating Monopoly  Regulations designed to prevent media monopolies o Limiting the amount of a given market that any one company can own  Ensuring healthy competition  Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (Fin-Syn Rules) o ABC, NBC, CBS dominated airwaves in the 50s 3 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES o Limiting the networks’ financial control over their programming o Syndication: The process of producing and selling programming o Prior to Fin-Syn, these three networks were becoming increasing vertically integrated as they produced and broadcasted a lot of their own programming o Syn-Fin limited the amount of broadcasted programming the major networks could hold the financial rights to o Prime Time Access Rule reduced the amount of network-produced programming o Syn-Fin forced these networks to purchase programming o When cable networks started to become more popular, the FCC changed the Fun-Syn rules to allow networks to hold financial rights to half of their prime-time broadcast line-up (1980s) o Half network programming monopoly to promote the growth of independent stations and production companies o Repealing was the trend toward government deregulation and media self-regulation  Telecommunications Act of 1996: Ownership is no more than 35% of the national audience  Decreasing ownership barriers would spur competition, increase content quality, and lower prices for consumers  Public Interest  System of supply and demand will lead to media self-regulation  Cannot be considered good or bad, but can evaluate the factors that inform the creation and effect of a regulation Protecting Intellectual Property  Deals with legally protecting the creative work of artists  Establish clear guidelines o What work can be protected o How it should be protected o Limits placed on the protection o Ways creative work can be legally separated and used in the media  Most familiar form: Copyright: The granting of exclusive control of a creative work to that work’s creator o Practical purpose: Legally award a creator power over the use of his/her work o Theoretical Purpose: Ensure that individuals will continue to generate innovative products  Especially important to media industry because they sell innovation  Relies on new ideas  Article 1 of the US Constitution unable to keep up with the technological advances, which led to the Copyright Law of 1978 o Gives the creator the exclusive control over the reproduction, dissemination, and sale of the work o Work retains copyright for the lifetime of the creator +70 years. The copyright holder is allowed to renew it o Work is protected as soon as there is a physical medium  Limitations of copyright o Small portions of a work can be copied under the notion of fair use o Copyright only covers material expression of an idea, not the idea itself 4 | P a g e MDSA01 INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA STUDIES  Rules for the distribution of creative work o Broadcast Music Inc. o Motion Picture Association of America o Digital Rights Management (DRM):
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