Legal Constraints of the Media.

Okay, so this morning, our task is to research two legislations to do with the media; ‘Official Secrets Act of 1989′ and the ‘Video Recording Act of 1984′. Tommy (I’ll tag his WordPress in the post) and I have to research both, and list some bullets points on them. As we weren’t in last week, we only had forty-five minutes to complete this, so we didn’t have time to do a full presentation on them; we instead researched them, and listed the key points. So, here we go, lets start with:

‘Official Secrets Act of 1989‘ (I’m gonna shorten it to OSA):

Coming into place in March 1st 1990, this replaced the OSA of 1911, under which ‘it was a criminal offence to disclose any official information without lawful authority’. Under the act of 1989, it became an offence for:

‘a Crown servant, Government contractor or member of the public who has, or has had, official information in his possession, to disclose official information in any of the following categories if the disclosure is made lawful authority and is damaging. The categories are:

-Security and Intelligence


-International Relations

-Foreign confidences

-Information which might lead to the commissions of crime

-the special investigation powers under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 and the Security Service Act of 1989.’

Okay, so this means that anyone under those categories who has official information to do with the above categories, cannot disclose this information into the media without the permission of the law, as it may be ‘damaging’. Essentially, this limits freedom of speech, if the law decides that the information is dangerous.


Next, we have the Video Recording Act of 1984, establishes some criminal offences in relation to video work in the UK. These criminal offences include:

-Supplying or offering to supply an unclassified video work.

-Possession of an unclassified video work for the purpose of supply.

-Supplying or offering to supply recordings of classified works in breach of the classification. 

-Supplying or offering to supply a work otherwise than n a licensed sex shop. 

– Supplying or offering to supply a video recording not complying with the Video Recording Regulations of 1985.

-Supply or offering to supply a video recurring containing a false indication as to classification.

Before this law, there was no law against who you could distribute videos to, meaning people could release films on video or cinema release without the approval of the BBFC. What was worrying about this, was that any persons of any age could acquire these films, which could essentially contain anything, however obscene the video may be. This law made it so videos had to be classified by the BBFC, who would decide whether the films could be shown to the public, and what age restriction would be placed on the film.


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