Friday, February 3, 2017

Who Controls the Media: The Supreme Court

     In response to this week’s question “Who controls the Media?,” I made the case in my presentation that the federal court system, and the Supreme Court in particular, has played a massive role in controlling and regulating the various media industries.  I examined two particular Supreme Court cases and their rulings in an attempt to demonstrate this fact.  I showed how the Roth v. United States and Miller v. California rulings had a massive impact on First Amendment interpretation by determining that obscenity is not protected as free speech.  Then, I showed how the following criteria for classifying obscenity, which the Roth decision created and the Miller decision re-affirmed, is still affecting media censorship procedure to this day: “The standard for judging obscenity, adequate to withstand the charge of constitutional infirmity, is whether, to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest.”  The FCC still uses this standard as its measurement for determining whether or not broadcast content will be classified as obscene.  These two cases have had a major impact on several policies and laws concerning media publications and broadcasts, and these are only two of many such cases that have passed before the Supreme Court.

     Some good sources for if you are interested in looking deeper into this material:

·         The FCC’s FAQ page about its obscenity and indecency policies and procedures:

·         Summary and excerpts from the Roth v. United States majority ruling:

·         An article about current Supreme Court cases which would have an impact on media:

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