Examples of Censorship outside Australia

"A government that withholds essential information from its people by censorship is no more democratic than one that speaks falsely" ( The Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck). Here Peck explains that lying to citizens is the same as censorship. The key phrase, however, is essential information. This quote can thus be understood as a government's responsiblity to make public all and any information that might have negative effects upon its constituents in order for these citizens to have an awareness and to form some sort of conscious attachment to the issue.
Within Australia publicly available information is (for want of a better phrase) more available than within a lot of other nations across the globe and our censorship laws are much more liberal. Below are examples of censorship outside Australia as well as explanations of how the censorship regulations have affected the national populations of these countries.

The 10 most censored countries

The Committee to Protect Journalists released in 2006 the ten most censored countries in the world. The criteria for judgement of the countries is based on whether the state controlled all media outlets, whether there existed formal censorship laws, the use of state violence/ imprisionment/ harrassment of journalist, the restrictions on private internet use and foriegn news broadcasts (http://cpj.org/reports/2006/05/10-most-censored-countries.php, 2006).

Not surprisingly at the top of the list is North Korea “the world’s deepest information void” (http://cpj.org/reports/2006/05/10-most-censored-countries.php, 2006). However looking at the list notable exclusions include China? Rounding out the top ten and include;
1. North Korea
2. Burma
3. Turkmenistan
4. Equatorial Guinea
5. Libya
6. Eritrea
7. Cuba
8. Uzbekistan
9. Syria
10. Belarus

Notably low lights include Equatorial Guinea; where all broadcast media is state owned, except for one private radio/television network owned by the President’s son. In Turkmenistan; the state owns and controls all domestic media, the President is said to personally approve the front-pages of all the major dallies. In Belarus two dozen domestic and foriegn journalists were jailed and charged with “hooliganism” (http://cpj.org/reports/2006/05/10-most-censored-countries.php, 2006) during the presidental campaign rallies. And Burma where citizens have been arrested for listening to BBC and Radio Free Asia in public.

Malaysia

In Malaysia, censorship of the press is said to have existed since its first publication (Lim, 2007, pg 2). According to Lim, many of the justifications used by the government when surpressing certain instances of free speech and free press is to protect the interest and security of the people (2007). In the case of the May 13th incident, the government's reasoning to protect the lives of the people is just. However, it is an instance in which the media is not allowed to truthfully broadcast the whole fact to the public, thus undermining the supposed role of the media as the disseminator of truth to the public. Significantly, as a result of this racial riot spurred by free speech, the government deemed it necessary to alter the media policy in Malaysia to tighten control on speech and expression (Lim, 2007). The most recent controversy regarding censorship in Malaysia is the consideration to implement an internet filter not unlike China's "Green Dam" software (Cheah, 2009; Joshi, 2009; Lee, 2008; Malaysian Insider, 2009). Though it has been denied that such a proposal is ongoing, it has riled much discussion among the population with talks of invasion of privacy and freedom of expression.

Korea

Censorship of the press and film have existed since Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) in Korea. There were oppressive censorship during this period and the standard for censorship was very broad. (eg. It is forbidden to publish any material that profaned the dignity of the imperial household of Japan; had possibility to inspire people with disturbing the national constitution etc.). This oppressive censorship, were continued till 1980s after the liberation and till 1989 departments such as the Ministry of National Defense and National Security Agency participated in the censorship.
Examples of Korean film censorship can be traced back to 1976. A movie directed by Jang-ho Lee <Gu-rae gu-rae do annyung> had its last scene removed due to government censorship and changed to a happy ending instead of its actual negative ending. In Jong-won Park's movie <Guro Arirang>(1989) was also censored and deleted its 20 scenes and most of its inappropriate lines such as 'Rich Bastard' The censorship was continued until early 90s, Ji-gyun Kwok's movie <Julmun nal-ei cho-sang>'s student suicide scene and police drinking with hostess scene were removed. Currently film censorship is not being enforced anymore, but there is an non-govenmental organization called Korea Film Council provide classifications under the law of Korean film promotion.

The recent issue regarding censorship in Korea is the internet censorship. As several Korean famous actresses have committed suicide by malignant contempt online, the government and ruling party have decided to pass a bill called ‘Cyber Contempt Law’ and people are against this law as it will control their freedom of expression in cyberspace and it is an act of suppressing democracy.

China



A recent government report concluded that China has over two thousand newspapers, over eight thousand magazines, some 374 television stations, and over 150 million Internet users in the country. But despite the array of information made available to the Chinese people, there is stringent censorship in the media, which is largely seen as a measure to maintain the rule of the Communist Party of China. Censorship assists in the prevention of unapproved reformist, separatist, counter-revolutionary and religious ideas. But experts say the growing demand for information is testing a regime that is trying to use media controls in its bit to maintain power. CFR Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Elizabeth C. Economy says the Chinese government is a state of "schizophrenia" about media policy, as it "goes back and forth, testing the line, knowing they need press freedom- and the information it provides, but worry about opening the door to the type of freedoms that could lead to the regime’s downfall".

The lead-up to the Summer 2008 Beijing Olympics drew international attention to Censorship in China. It was alleged that guidelines for reporting during the games. What seemed to be imperative was for the down-play of any political issue that did not relate directly to the game. This included the Chinese Milk Scandal where Melamine was added to milk, most likely to make it appear to have a higher protein content. The Ministry of Health revised the number of victims to more that 290,000 and 51,900 hospitalised. News editors were ordered to adhere to the official copy of Xinhua, and reporting emphasis was shifted onto the forthcoming launch of Shezhous VII. The Wall Street Journal reported local journalists saying that discussion of the causes of the crisis, government responsibility, questions about government complicity with dairy companies, was strictly off limits.


How free is Chinese media?

The watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranked China 163 out of 168 countries in its 2007 index of press freedom. China’s constitution affords its citizens freedom of speech and press, but the document contains broad language that says Chinese citizens must defend “the security, honor, and interests of the motherland.” Chinese law includes media regulations with vague language that authorities use to claim stories endanger the country by sharing state secrets. Journalists face harassment and prison terms for violating these rules and revealing classified matter. The government’s monitoring structure promotes an atmosphere of self-censorship; if published materials are deemed dangerous to state security after they appear in the media, the information can then be considered classified and journalists can be prosecuted (Zissis, 2008).

How does China exert media controls?

According to Zissis (2008), The Chinese government uses different means of intimidation to control the media and induce journalists to censor themselves rather than risk punishment. Censorship tactics include:
  • Dismissals and demotions
  • Libel
  • Fines
  • Closing news outlets
  • Imprisonment


China’s control of foreign media:
The state-controlledXinhua News agencyfirst implemented explicit laws censoring foreign media in 1996. Further media restrictions were then added on the 10th of September 2006. The new restrictions, entitled "Measures for Administering the Release of News and Information in China by Foreign News Agencies."
Stipulations under the new laws include:
1. All foreign news organizations providing news to China must be approved by Xinhua
2. Xinhua reserves the right to directly censor and edit inflowing news.
3. Media in China may not directly publish or translate news from foreign news agencies without approval.
4. Media found to have violated any of the regulations may in the future be blocked from operating in China.

Examples of Censorship:
  • Film: As China has no motion picture rating system, films must be deemed suitable for all audiences before they are allowed to be screened. A reference to the Cold War is removed in Casino Royale, and footage with actor Chow Yun-Fat in Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End. Some other banned films including: Brokeback Moutain, Seven Years in Tibet, Ben-Hur, Over the Hedge, Borat, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
  • Music:Album Chinese Democracy by Guns and Roses is banned. As are three tracks from Kylie Minogue’s Album X.
  • Literature
  • Newspapers
  • Television
  • Internet

Censorship of China-The Searching Engine-Yahoo

As China's ongoing economic grows, investment and involvement of foreign companies in China's information and telecommunications industries has soared. In China, Amnesty International is concerned that in their pursuit of new and lucrative markets, foreign corporation may be directly or indirectly contributing to human rights violations or at the very least failing to give adequate consideration ot the human rights implications of their investments. Of particular concern are abuses of the right to freedom of expression and information.

In 2002 Yahoo! voluntarily signed the 'Public Pledge on Self-discipline ofr the Chinese Internet Industry'. The Pledge requires Yahoo! to 'refrain from producing, posting or disseminating harmful information that may jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability, contravene laws and regulations and spread superstition and obscenity'. The 2007 version of the pledge further encourages Internet companies to register the real names, address and other personal details of the bloggers, and then keep this information, in addition to deleting any 'illegal or bad messages'.Yahoo! is under no legal obligation to sign this pledge, yet thye chose to sign it, first in 2002 and again in 2007. By taking this step, the company has aligned itself with the Chinese Government's approach to suppressing dissent, and this is stated by the Amnesty of Yahoo! inconsistent with international human rights standards, specifically freedom of expression. SInce signing the pledge, Yahoo! has continued to censor search results via the Chinese version of its search engine.

The Shi Tao event

Under the special custom-made censor sysem in Yahoo! China, Yahoo! is accused of cooperation with authorities in CHina in events which led to the detention of Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist. Mr.Shi was imprisoned solely for the legitimate excerise of this right to seek, receive and impart information, as guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenent on Civil and Political Rights. Evidence presented by the prosecutor that led to the sentencing of Mr.Shi included account-holder information provided by Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd which is held under Yahoo China.On April 27, 2005, Mr.Shi received a ten-year prison term for sending information about a Communist Party decision through Yahoo email account to a website based in the United States. Mr.Shi's appeal was denied on June 2, 2005.


Bibliography

Committee to Protect Journalist (2006) ’10 most censored countries’ http://cpj.org/reports/2006/05/10-most-censored-countries.php, Last Updated: May 2 2006, Assessed Sepetmber 3 2009.