Creative Media Task 3

Legal and Ethical Constraints in Media

Just like with any industry, there are many constraints which have been put in place to protect the audience and stop any issues arising against creators. These constraints are set by regulatory bodies, who ensure the codes aren’t broken, stopping any obscene content reaching and harming an audience in any way.

Legal Constraints

  • Legal constraints are laws that you have to follow, with no alternative, that regulate what is emitted in the creative media sector. If broken, fines and investigations from the police ensue as a consequence.
    • Legal constraints include:
      •  The Broadcasting Act, 1990
        • The Broadcasting Act was an act to reform British Broadcasting, in the sense that it would sort out the public’s issues with Television and Radio.
          • Effects on Television
            • The act prompted the creation of Channel 5, the fifth terrestrial channel in the UK and aided the growth of multichannel satellite TV. It also forced the BBC into an agreement, breaking their ‘all in-house’ production scheme, pushing them to source at least a quarter of its output from independent production companies. It also allowed the companies behind the ITV franchises to expand into other businesses, which led to the foundation of the ITV PLC. that we all know today.
          • Effects on Radio
            • The act meant wonders for radio, sparking the launch of three independent national radio stations, two using AM band channels on medium wave frequencies previously used by the BBC and the third using FM broadcasting channels on frequencies previously used by the emergency services. It also allowed plans to be made for local and regional commercial radio stations using untouched areas of the FM band.
        • This also brought in the Independent Television Commission and Radio Authority, which today have both been replaced by Ofcom.
      • The Obscene Publications Act, 1959 (and 1964)
        • This act made it an offence to publish content which will “deprave and corrupt” the audience. This includes any form of pornography before a certain time and any extreme sexual activity at any given point.
          • Effects on Television
            • No content deemed obscene through the Miller Test of Obscenity for audiences which can be shown on television. Any pornography must only be aired after a watershed and warnings before programmes are required to ensure the viewer is completely aware of what the program may involve.
          • Effects on Radio
            • No obscene content is allowed to be aired on the radio.
        • One of the most recent cases of the Obscene Publications Act being put into effect was in 1991, with the release of ‘Lord Horror’, a graphic novel set in World War 2, depicting the extreme anti-semitism of the age through it’s main character. The book was labelled obscene and was banned, with police confiscating all 350 books in storage at Savoy Books. The case was then overturned due to an appeal in 1992, yet the police continued to confiscate copies of it despite this, due to another book in the same storage which hadn’t had it’s case overturned. (source)
      • The Race Relations Act, 1976
        • The act was a law that attempted to abolish racial discrimination.
          • Effects on the Media in General
            • The media now had to be incredibly careful that discrimination did not occur in any form. For example, on television and radio, it is important that any racial discrimination is cut or avoided in the first place to evade offending anyone.
              • One example of a kerfuffle with this legislation is from 2008, when the BBC launched an inquiry into an advert, where they sought out a “young, zany Oriental or Asian person with a science background” to front a series. This caused somewhat of a squabble due to fact that the Race Relations Act states that job requirements leading to one or more racial groups being favoured over others is classed as indirect discrimination.
                • The BBC responded with “The wording of the messages was inappropriate and they should not have been sent out. It is now an internal matter.”
              • (source)
      • The Copyright and Intellectual Property Law
        • This law is put in place worldwide to ensure that the creator of a piece of art, video, literature, music, etc. is always known as the creator. The creator owns the copyright to something, which they can distribute licenses, for people to use the work with, but all follow strict guidelines. Apart from few cases, close to all uses of another person’s work must be permitted in writing by the copyright holder and the creator must be credited appropriately.
          • Effect on Television
            • Music or clips cannot be shown without correct permissions
          • Effect on Radio
            • Music cannot be aired without correct permissions. Music is protected by PRS and PPL, meaning a license from both of these are required to play copyrighted music on the radio, or anywhere for that matter.
      • Libel Law
        • Libel Law is legislation that states that false information cannot be conveyed in order to give impressions not intended, for example, falsely quoting someone to portray someone in a negative light.
          • An example of this is a battle between The Daily Telegraph and the British model Naomi Campbell, where it was falsely claimed that she organised an elephant polo match in India. This not being true, The Telegraph were brought into court, where Campbell won substantial damages and received a public apology.

Ethical Constraints 

  • Ethics in media are taken very seriously in order to defend the audience from offensive material. Although not taken lawfully as seriously as legal constraints, they are still, morally, just as important. There are so many people in the world that it’s important to stay within society’s guidelines of political correctness, in order to avoid angering or offending anyone. This can be caused through misrepresenting topics like gender, race and religion, for example if a company were to portray one religion as better than all others, this would of course run into some complaints. Although not officially regulated, for example by law, the producer of the piece has to make a moral judgement call in order to ensure the safety of their audience and face any consequences which may arise.
    • Example:
      • In Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 the infamous shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown was plastered all over the news. The shooting was committed by Police Officer Darren Wilson and was reported on by many news agencies, namely KSDK and The New York Times. In August KSDK, while reporting, showed a video of Wilson’s house, but did not release the address publicly. This was an ethica
        l issue that stumped many, as Wilson’s privacy was legally maintained, as his address was not disclosed, however some found it a violation of his privacy, in a sense morally, as his home was broadcast publicly without his permission. This obviously caused a stir as to whether it was ethically acceptable to air this.

      • When reporting on the death and upcoming funeral for Brown, the Times worded descriptions, to some, incredibly inappropriately, stating that Brown was “no angel”, implying the idea that Brown was a bad kid, which caused a huge backlash. The editor of The New York Times had to judge whether the public would read this as a dig at Brown or read it literally as the play on words it was intended to be (referring to a vision Brown had earlier in the year about an angel), to emphasise that he was not the ‘perfect human’ an angel would be, due to his background, dabbling in drugs and alcohol and having scuffles with neighbours. This ethical conundrum caused many to be angered by the wording, however unintentionally it was.
  • The TV station later apologised saying it was a “mistake”.
  • The Times officially apologised, claiming that it was poorly worded – with writer John Eligon saying “I wish I would have changed [the phrase]”

The way producers now deal with such ethical issues is through what are known as the ‘Editors’ Codes of Practice’, which are ground rules in order to stop any offensive material reaching and offending the public. In the BBC, for example, all producers have to follow strict guidelines. In brief, they have to:

– Be Objective (Impartiality)

– Be Accurate

– Be Fair

– Give a full and fair view of people and cultures

– Have editorial integrity and independence

– Respect privacy of any individuals



The Structures and Techniques of Television Advertisement


Advertisers use a huge variety of techniques when creating their promotional material in order for them to be as successful as possible. These are advertising conventions, which reflect the many specific needs of certain consumers. The theory behind it is that as an advertiser ticks off appropriate conventions and techniques when creating an advert, they will get closer to what their target audience want to hear. Not only does this influence the decision of the target market, persuading them, it also gives them a feeling of belonging to the brand, as the advert is tailored to suit them. Before these conventions can be put in place, the advertisers must identify and classify their target audience.

Audience categorisation methods are ways of classifying consumers who want the product in question. It’s very important for advertisers to classify an audience in order to gain a target market as it gives them a bar in which to produce the advertisement to. For example, if an expensive car company wanted the most effective audience to target the advert towards, they wouldn’t aim the promotional material towards a lower-salary audience. The reason targeting is used is to ensure the company have an effective advert, which pulls in the correct consumer-base in order to maximize impact and increase sales.

  • Demographics, such as age and gender are very common and expected ways of classifying an audience. Advertisers may be attracted to start the process of classification with these methods, as it gives a general view of the target audience, which can later be narrowed down to further specifics. For example, a women’s product is most likely to be more effective when marketed towards women, or household products, like cleaning supplies, are most likely to be more effective when marketed towards adults than children.
  • Standard Occupational Classification is classifying an audience by their profession and social grade. This method sieves an audience, essentially, by how much money they hold, for example, expensive products would market towards wealthy audiences. Most companies would refer to social grades of a household, A,B,C1,C1,D,E. This is known as Socio-Economic Classification.
  • Psychographics are an effective method of audience classification also, as they allow companies to market directly towards the interests of the consumers. Psychographic classification separates audiences by their interests and mindset, meaning targeting the audience becomes more personal, in comparison to by age or earnings. Originally, psychographics were mapped in a hierarchy of needs, created by Abraham Maslow.
    After Maslow’s research, Young and Rubicam created their own hierarchy of needs, and divided consumers into different psychographic sections. Theoretically, every person fits into the following 7 social groups which correspond to a specific need in life. This is the Cross Cultural Consumer Characterisation, or the 4 Cs.

    • The Explorer – Need for Discovery – New or crazy products would be marketed towards the explorer.
    • The Aspirer – Need for Status – Posh, impressive or expensive products would be marketed towards the aspirer.
    • The Succeeder – Need for Control – Similar to the aspirer, except these products are bought more as a reward for their hard work.
    • The Reformer – Need for Enlightenment – Authentic, interesting products are marketed towards the reformer.
    • The Mainstream – Need for Security – Popular, reliable brands are marketed towards the mainstream.
    • The Struggler – Need for Escape – Products which seek to improve lives are more marketed towards the struggler.
    • The Resigned – Need to Survive – Familiar brands, or the brands they personally are familiar with are what they seek, making them, arguably the hardest audience to market to.
  • Geodemographical Classification is classification based on location. If a person lives in a more wealthy area, more expensive products may be marketed there. Also, if products are more popular in certain areas they would be marketed more towards said areas.

Example 1

Smirnoff: The Apple Bite
This advertisement is very stylish and modern, introducing the idea that this isn’t necessarily just a drink to get drunk with, as some perceive Smirnoff to be on some occasions, and it is more a posh, rewarding drink that is to be had with a meal or on a posh night out – deviating from their familiar brand. This instantaneously sets the bar that this product is aiming for a more upper class, wealthier audience. The imagery used in the ad is very surreal and strange, along with twitching visuals and peculiar effects, which convey the idea that the drink itself is an odd, interesting experience. This reflects what Young and Rubicam suggested about ‘The Explorer‘ in their 4 Cs. The explorer’s market is a market in which anything funky and new could interest them. The combination of the drink and its promotional material help to really emphasise that this is the product for the explorer. Likewise, going off the base of the previous point, the succeeder may be drawn towards the product due to the posh, reward aspect of the advertisement, as if its saying “Go on treat yourself” (with its biblical theme mimicking Adam and Eve, particularly with the snake being the bartender). It’s clear that these groups are the market that the company are attempting sell to and not, say, the Struggler, which would be searching for a stronger, more bog standard drink, without all the intrigue that the dark, modern theme conveys.

Example 2

Go Compare is an infamous example of a company falling down onto a convention and becoming hugely successful because of it. Due to the boringness of finding car insurance and the other services GoCompare provide, this cannot be reflected in an advert, i.e – It would be tedious to watch. That is why GoCompare fell back on the technique of character creation. This is where the advertisers create a character who is funny, memorable or relatable in order to catch the viewers interest and help sell the product. Gio Compario, as he is called, is the character that came as a result. The song he sings is catchy and memorable, whilst explaining what GoCompare is. When an advertiser uses a catchy song and character, they are attempting a viral, comedy marketing scheme, as opposed to an informative and educational one. They are persuading the audience by using such a silly theme tune and pushing the name into the viewers’ heads. Because of its obnoxiousness, everybody knows who and what the Go Compare man is and can probably recite the lyrics of “Go Compare!”. This is exactly the tactic of the advertiser. The lyrics present a tone for people like the the Struggler, as they push the idea that “you can save a pretty penny” or “save your spondoliks”. The idea that the advertisement is clearly pushing to a struggler is bolstered by the informality of the advert and in-your-face nature of the ad, not to mention the fact that this advert was plastered all over daytime television hinting that the target audience for the ad is unemployed/lower salary members of the public, that need their money elsewhere than car insurance. The slogan “You can thank your stars that you went to GoCompare!” only emphasises this point.

It could also be interpreted that this ad is somewhat aimed towards the Succeeder, giving off the idea that you should get a bargain and save your well earned money for other things, like overly expensive coffee. It is very much implied that the two guys are successful individuals. You could also interpret that this ad is meant to push the company into the mainstream, as at the point of the ad they were trying to set up a bigger brand than they had, by emphasising just how great it is, as if its been a household name all the time. Following this advertising scheme, we can see that the brand has now dipped into the mainstream, with the lyrics infecting near enough anyone from any age group, sex or profession.

Example 3

The Sony Bravia advert ‘Paint’ is a classic example of an advert breaking the norm and showing off. At this point, Sony is such a big company that it’s somewhat doubtful that one hasn’t heard of it, so Sony no longer has to make the big push to give as much information about their products as possible. That’s when experimental adverts arrive, like this one. This advert is basically just an over-the-top method of saying ‘Sony TVs are the best’. The words “Colour like no other” and the TV’s branding popping up at the end of the ad pushes the idea that Sony TVs are powerful, by making the impression that nothing even comes close to Sony’s design. Firstly, this marketing, implying that it’s the best of the best, would intrigue both the Aspirer and the Succeeder of Y&R’s 4Cs and it’s obvious that these are the main target audiences of this ad, at least from the branding, expressing the impressiveness of this gadget. That being said, the ad is a very intriguing style of ad. We can see that due to the abstract nature of paint fireworks that Sony are pushing their familiar brand out of the mainstream and towards the Explorer. Not many adverts follow the ‘interesting’ code like this one, yet they are clearly effective due to the impact they give. Sony are trying to push into the abstract theme in order to grasp people who want exciting things, like the aforementioned but also the Reformer, to some extent. There is no doubt that this advert is marketed towards the more upper class members of society, or at least not marketed towards lower wage members, despite the ‘cheap but good’ image that Sony is famous for.

Advertisers measure audiences in order to find out the most effective times and places for their advertisements to be optimal at grasping consumers. Audience measurement is a method of finding who watches the ads, when do they watch them and how many people watch them.

BARB, the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, use board members’ television information to match people to their programme and channel, to check the data analytics and ratings of a show/channel. They use a box which monitors audio from a television to work out which programme is being watched (which is later matched to a channel) in the household, which a remote to choose who is watching – whether they be male, female, child, teen, adult etc. This is similar to other companies, called television research agencies, which work with audience measurement panels, who also track the amount of people in an audience. This data is then all compiled and released as statistics for channels, TV show producers and advertisers to use. Advertisers can then find prime spots for their ads, in order to maximize exposure to their audience, for example:
– Foxy Bingo, a bingo website with ‘jackpots to be won’ sponsors a lot of daytime television, including ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’. If a product, like Foxy Bingo, generally is marketing towards, what Y&R’s 4cs call ‘The Struggler‘, then they will check the figures for who’s watching what, trying to find unemployed/lower wage people, who will be more attracted to bingo, as they would hope to win money as a release from their lack of it. Daytime television shows, especially well renowned ones, like ‘Jeremy Kyle’, would be prime time for this, as a huge amount of people watch the show live, and if they’re watching daytime television, then they aren’t working the standard hours – implying unemployment. This means that Foxy Bingo has bigger exposure to potential consumers in their target market, due to the 2 million+ (as of 2009) viewers of ‘Jeremy Kyle’. Without the figures of viewers from BARB and other Audience Research Panels, Foxy Bingo might have placed their ad elsewhere on television and lose out on potential consumers. Likewise, if Foxy Bingo would ask focus groups on which Daytime TV show is their favourite, they would probably find ‘Jeremy Kyle’ towards the top of the list. Foxy Bingo then start thinking that these shows are an ideal place for their advertisements.

Somewhat similarly, ThinkBox uncovers trends in the media industry, giving insights on audience engagements with advertisements and how to further improve advertising to suit the needs of the current generation. They help measure audiences by monitoring fluctuations in viewership giving extensive knowledge to advertising companies on how to improve their ads.

Other methods of audience measurement are questionnaires and focus groups. This involves direct communication with an audience, either through giving them a survey or talking to them. These methods don’t give statistics but opinions, i.e – it’s not representative of an entire population of viewers, which these statistics could show. These methods are effective at seeing types of audiences, what they watch and what ads would appeal to them, as opposed to ratings and analytics. Face-to-face interviews, whether with public members of focus groups are effective at finding what channels a person watches and ads that have grasped them. This can then be conveyed to the advertising agency to find spots on TV that reflect data pulled from interviews. Questionnaires give the same data, except less data could be collected due to people not bothering to fill in the survey. Surveys can get a lot more concise and easily-collectible data. Although effective, these don’t give representative figures that span across a whole audience.