Communication, Freedom and Change, Vol. 7 - 2000, No. 4
This essay draws on the work of French philosopher Louis Althusser, particularly his contributions to the development of ideology, in an assessment of the relationship between communication and freedom. Althusser's understanding of freedom as an ideological creation not only privileges the role of ideology in the construction of social relationships, but also calls into question the complex interplay between media, society, and freedom. The current billion dollar anti-drug public service announcement deal is interrogated in an effort to illustrate how the United States government has been inserting ideologically-driven propaganda into prime time television shows with the full cooperation and approval of network executives. The anti-drug advertising deal provides an example of how freedom may be compromised as the ideological state apparatus of television places ruling class, government sanctioned ideas into the forefront of society.
This paper looks at the reconstruction of global communications policy during the 1990s around a set of three pillars: the WTO, new domestic regulators, and new systems of private authority. It analyses several WTO agreements adopted during the decade and argues that these agreements increased access to telecommunications services and the Internet, but tended to do so among high end users clustered in North America, Europe and Japan as well as a few business centres scattered across the "third world." The paper also analyses the rising influence of private-sector based policy alliances on the ITU and WTO as well as their power to set de facto policies for privacy, network access and Internet content regulation through self regulation and control over the design of communication technologies. Lastly, it argues that the problem with globalisation is that efforts to create global markets have been divorced from any parallel commitment to the globalisation of democracy.
Technological convergence has spurred the restructuring of communication industries and has stimulated the need to reconsider existing media laws. Traditionally the technologies of telecommunications, broadcasting, satellite and computing operated independently while the industries associated with each were regulated independently along the same lines. Technological convergence challenges the vertical regulatory models of broadcasting, telecommunications and computer services while simultaneously challenging the traditional approach to regulation by nation-states. This article explores the scope and early phases of regulatory convergence examining approaches to and sources of regulation in an ever increasingly globalized media world. The shift toward moving media regulation into market regulation internationally is examined within a survey of diverse approaches to regulating convergent technology. The authors propose a model of communication which could be used in future consideration of communication regulations worldwide.
South African democracy, in stark contrast to the apartheid regime, holds freedom of expression to be a fundamental, entrenched right. This is one of the hard-won victories of the negotiated revolution of 1990 to 1994. Freedom of expression, and its corollaries, such as freedom of the press, are embedded in a new culture of democratic deliberation that truly permeates the South African public sphere. Citizen agency is put to the test in how expression of values is activated in the media. Three sites have been carved out for the purpose of this article. First, how public engagement strategies are devised and proposed in the glossy, lifestyle and fashion magazines, usually not associated with democratic transformation and agency. Second, how mass circulation newspapers have elaborated a standard reporting procedure (supplements) by which the nation is given a voice - and one that is staged as being both public and deliberative about its own freedom of expression. Third, a bulletin for mass consumption that accompanied the writing of the new Constitution. Citizens in the making were made to argue and invent the public sphere. All three sites share a fundamental belief that citizen agency is rooted in what is called a "plasmatic" strategy by which the simulacra of autonomy do help foster public agency.
Newspapers' Struggle for Survival in Authoritarian Regimes: The Examples of "Madrid" (Spain) and "La opinión" (Argentina)
Authoritarian regimes usually allow the press to act occasionally with a certain degree of freedom. Within this restrictive environment, critical newspapers may use different tactics to survive and, at the same time, to head for democracy. This was the case of two newspapers, Madrid in Spain and La Opinión in Argentina, whose battle against dictatorship eventually ended with their closing in 1971 and 1977, respectively. The two newspapers were symbols of resistance against the authoritarian regimes in their countries and became ideological, political and cultural reference points for democratic changes. In political terms, Madrid and La Opinión adopted similar strategies of opening and resistance despite their specific national contexts. In terms of journalistic profession, the two newspapers took the prestigious Parisian daily Le Monde as a model, which was a rather common tendency among newspapers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yet both of them were particularly vulnerable as commercial companies: various administrative and legal measures taken against them because of some supposed legal offences led eventually to the closure of the two publishing companies.
Karl Marx addresses issues of freedom and communication during his brief career as editor of the Rheinische Zeitung and Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne, Germany between 1843 and 1849 with remarkable clarity and intensity. His quest for freedom and the disclosure of truth are cornerstones of resistance to official attempts to manipulate the understanding of freedom as license to act and to suggest that truth is relative and determinable by public authorities. Marx identifies editorial practices with freedom of expression that belongs to working journalists as an individual or collective right that governs the relations between journalists and public and private authorities, including the owners of the press itself; freedom of the press, on the other hand, as an economic consideration is a professional prerequisite for intellectual labour. His ideas offer real alternatives to current debates over freedom of the press and contemporary conditions of journalism: to sustain democracy requires freedom of expression and the protection of the public sphere, including the media, particularly from forms of censorship that arise with the control of intellectual labour by those who own or influence the means of public communication.