The State and The Media is a ?

The relationship between state and media is an excerpt from my research-based strategic policy paper 2017-18 with a focus on broadcasting.

Special Visit from Pakistan of The Newseum Washington DC on the 4th of July. An American museum dedicated to news and journalism that promoted free expression and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, while tracing the evolution of communication.

Amnesty’s Definition of “Freedom Of Speech.”

‘Freedom of speech is the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, by any means.’

Applies to ideas of all kinds including those that may be deeply offensive. But it comes with responsibilities and we believe it can be legitimately restricted.

However, Governments have an obligation to prohibit hate speech and incitement.

And restrictions can also be justified if they protect specific public interest or the rights and reputations of others.

Any restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of expression must be set out in laws that must in turn be clear and concise so everyone can understand them.

All of this has to be backed up by safeguards to stop the abuse of these restrictions and incorporate a proper appeals process.

The marriage between state and media

Governments intervene in all forms of economic activity, making the claim of ‘free markets’ just an ideal (Hesmondhalgh).

In the cultural industry, they do so in three main ways.

–          through legislation: e.g. competition laws, copyright, privacy, etc.

–          through regulation: e.g. to promote fair competition by preventing cross-ownership; public interest concerns; pluralism and diversity in the public sphere. Ownership (structural) and content regulation have always been issues of critical importance to the state

–          by providing subsidies – e.g. in the case of research that led to the Internet Lawrence Lessig: The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Wired World)

State interest in regulating

All industries are subject to state legislation and regulation in one form or another.

However, two sectors have been of particular importance to the state. The world over i.e. telecommunications and broadcasting. Until the 1980s, both sectors were subjected to direct state ownership. Control throughout the world except in the USA. But even in the USA, both sectors were under strict government regulation.

Why Broadcasting?  

Right from the beginning, it became clear that broadcasting is a powerful tool – commercially (promoting goods and services), politically (influencing people’s voting habits) and culturally (shaping people’s identities and advancing the nation-building project). For these reasons, governments seek direct control of broadcasting institutions throughout the world.

In broadcasting, the technological revolution – new cable, satellite and digital technologies – suggested to proponents of markets that spectrum scarcity arguments were no longer valid. Proponents of commercialism argue that there is no more justification for state regulation, Important changes in cultural industry policy took place within this period which had ramifications for the globalization of culture and the industries themselves.

State VS. Media

Some enact policies to protect own interest as follows : 

The USA with Trump manipulated and managed the media in numerous ways. He
corralled and abused reporters at his campaign events, he feuded with journalists deemed
unsympathetic toward his candidacy
, and he gave special access to those in the media who were
more compliant. He even threatened to change libel laws when he became president.

–   China has one of the world’s most restrictive media environments  China blocks many U.S. websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and some Google services. The government uses libel lawsuits, arrests, and other means to force Chinese journalists and media organizations to censor themselves. Thirty-eight journalists were imprisoned in China in 2017.

–   India has traditionally restricted media to access the Kashmir region and state control on news has been in place for decades.  Recently, the government of Narenda Modi has also used a variety of strategies to suppress independent journalists in India, including physical assaults on journalists and arrests made under frequently outdated laws that have been stretched beyond their proper application.

-While media in Pakistan on the contrary evolved as a result of privatization under a military president. However since then, the powerful interest groups not limiting to the state often violate freedom of journalists at large. From removal of news channels on cable to replacement of established journalists and having their own preferred ones on job . In case of dissent, a sharp rise is noticeable in violent physical attacks, abductions and in extreme cases murders.

–        Islāmic countries like Iraq and Syria have the highest number of journalists killed over the years as a result of wars. Some like Algeria attempt to use politics and religion as an excuse for murders. While others simply in varying ways halt freedom of expression. Iran along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey have a long history of arresting voices of dissent with many females as notable examples.

Entertainment VS. News

Every media industry thrives on entertainment dollars and Hollywood dominates the world.

Hesmondhalgh and other writers agree that changes are consciously brought about to support the interests of the giant multinational companies. As a result, the local industry in Europe is suffering in its potential to grow and largely replaced by multinational programming based primarily out of Hollywood due to the similarity of language.

Whereas, Brazil and Mexico have long protected against Hollywood to strengthen its own local industry.


Certainly, it is arguable that technological advancement reduces a state’s capacity to exercise communicative sovereignty. However, it would be rather far-fetched to assume that the state is no longer relevant.

States are still carrying out the critical function of lawmaking. The variety of media policies that it makes are expressions of sovereignty. Likewise, the state is still responsible for licensing broadcasters. Therefore, imposing limitations on ownership & operations. In the same vein, where necessary protecting culture and local industry.

changes in industrial countries influenced by changes in usa

To sum up, the fundamental of this marriage like any other is based on mutual respect. In short words the right to exercise freedom of speech.

As for trust, meanwhile, I prefer to leave that to your own imagination.

Free speech is one of our most important rights and one of the most misunderstood.Use your freedom of speech to speak out for those that are denied theirs. But use it responsibly: it is a powerful thing.

The State And The Media
American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America”

References :

  1. Changes in other industrialized countries, influenced by changes in the USA (Western Europe, Canada, Australia, etc). Peter Humphreys (1996); Collins and Murroni (1996); David Levy (1999) among others.
  2. Changes in transitional and mixed societies ( Curran and park, 2000,Schlesinger, 2001; Morley and Robins, 1995; Collins, 2002)
  3. CPJ Database: 2164 Journalists and Media Workers Killed
  4. The State Of Media Freedom in Pakistan- International Press Institute
  5. The State Of Media Freedom in India – International Press Institute
  6. Media Censorship in China – The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  7. Washington Post
  8. Amnesty UK

Asim Qureshi (click to read)

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