What is censorship?

Censorship is the examination of different forms of media and the suppression of parts considered unacceptable. Media can be deemed unacceptable for reasons including being violent, sexually explicit or using bad language.

The law

Individuals who feel that the media has offended them or invaded their privacy can complain to various agencies and associations, including:

  • Press Complaints Commission – handles complaints about the editorial content of newspapers and magazines and provides advice to journalists and the public.
  • British National Union of Journalists (NUJ) - has a code of conduct that should be met by all journalists.
  • Broadcasting Standards Commission - handles complaints within the broadcast media about taste, decency, violence and sexual conduct.
  • Telecommunications Act, 1984 – individuals who have received a message that is offensive or obscene can refer to this act for their own protection.
  • Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - makes sure that advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful.
  • The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) classifies all films shown in the UK. The BBFC can request changes to a film so that it is considered more suitable for viewing. A film cannot be shown unless it has been passed by the BBFC.

Defamation of character

Defamation of character is any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation. The media has the ability to portray an individual in a negative way, which could affect the respect, regard and confidence in which a person is held.

Written statements which degrade a person's character are known as libel and spoken statements are known as slander.