Ethics and media Case Study

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


This paper is aimed at showing how various ethical theories can be applied to the situations related to the work of mass media. In particular, it is critical to examine the functioning of mass media in the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, one should focus on such a phenomenon as censorship that can profoundly affect the work of media companies.

Situation Definition

The development of mass media in the UAE can be strongly influenced by the state (Benesh, 2008, p. 133). For example, one can mention the decision of the Dubai government to block such Pakistani channels as ARY One World and Geo News (Deibert, 2010, p. 590). It should be noted that this decision can be attributed to the demands of Persvez Musharraf, who leads the Pakistan’s military regime (Deibert, 2010, p. 590).

Furthermore, the government was willing to censure the political reporting provided by these channels. However, the stated enabled them to broadcast their entertainment programs. One should bear in mind that these channels supported the political opponents of Persvez Musharraf.

Furthermore, at present, the military regime of Musharraf maintains very close relationships with the UAE. These are some of the details that should be identified because they are important for understanding the conflict which the UAE government has to resolve.

In this case, it is possible to apply the harm principle, according to which the task of the state is to minimize potential threats to the entire community. Moreover, one should speak about Kant’s categorical principle according to which the morality of an action can be accurately assessed if this choice becomes a universal law (Patterson & Wilkins, 2013, p. 11).

Finally, it is important to speak about the concept of golden mean which implies that the morality of the same choice can be properly evaluated if one considers the context in which the choice is taken. In this case, one can speak about such values geopolitical interests of the county and the development of independent media in the country. The government of the UAE believes that these values are conflicting.

One can identify the following ethical questions:

  1. Should the government be able to affect the mass media?
  2. Can the use of censorship be justified by geopolitical interests of the country?


Overall, it is possible to possible to argue that the government should not limit the freedom of expression in the country because it is critical for social progress of the country and individual development of its citizens. In contrast, censorship can prevent the citizens of the country from understanding the complexity of the modern political or geopolitical issues.

This is one of the details that can be singled out. However, at the same time, the state should not disregard its long-term international relations. For example, one can argue that the country may accept the request of its geopolitical allies. In both cases, the state has to think about the long-term interest of the entire UAE community. In this case, the major task of the government is to find a way of reconciling these two values.

Secondly, one should focus on external factors that will continue to affect the decisions of policy-makers even after this case is resolved. For example, it is possible to say that the UAE and Pakistan can maintain close relations with one another, even if the regime of Persvez Musharraf collapses. This situation can be explained by close economic and cultural ties between the countries.

Thus, one should not exaggerate the importance of Persvez Musharraf. Another external factor is the long-term principles used by the UAE government. For example, policy-makers can ask themselves what they would do if the political leader of a foreign country asks them to censure mass media. Finally, decision-makers should consider the need to promote the development of news media in the country.

Furthermore, it is vital to speak about the duties to the major stakeholders. First of all, one should speak about UAE citizens want to learn about diverse political opinions. However, at the same time, these people may not want their country to enter into a confrontation with Pakistan.

Therefore, the government of the UAE owes several duties to these stakeholders. Secondly, the state owes duties to its geopolitical ally. In particular, they may accept the demands of Persvez Musharraf provided that this choice can strengthen the ties between two countries.

According to deontological ethics, an individual should think of what would happen provided that a moral choice becomes universal. By applying this rule, one can say that the decision to censure political reporting can turn the world into a global totalitarian state.

Therefore, it is not permissible to censure political broadcasting of ARY One World and Geo News. The adoption of categorical principles can give a straight-forward answer to policy-makers. They need to stop censorship because this policy contradicts the principles incorporated in the Constitution of the UAE.

In contrast, the use of utilitarian ethics and harm principle can lead to a different response. For example, a supporter of consequentialist approach may say that the government may be justified in censoring TV channels if this policy can improve geopolitical interests of the country.

This is one of the outcomes that should be considered. However, it is possible to speak about a different scenario. For instance, one can argue that this decision can impair the development of mass media industry in the UAE.

Moreover, the opponents of this decision can say that by yielding to the demands of Persvez Musharraf, the government of the UAE can weaken its international positions. Therefore, they should show the news reports of these Pakistani channels. Therefore, the application of utilitarian ethics and harm principle cannot give an unequivocal answer to this ethical dilemma.

It is also possible to speak about the virtue ethics advocated by Aristotle and his principle of golden mean. This approach implies that every virtue can become dangerous provided that it is taken in its extreme (Patterson & Wilkins, 2013, p. 9). Moreover, the morality or immorality of an action is often context-dependent.

The supporters of this approach can say that it may be irrational of the UAE government to abandon its alliance with Pakistani government for the sake of two television channels. Therefore, one can say that the government should not show the political reporting of these Pakistani channels.

However, at the same, one can say that this decision can be interpreted as a sign of weakness or even cowardice. Therefore, the state should allow broadcasting of these channels.


Overall, it is possible to say that the UAE government should not allow unrestricted broadcasting of ARY One World and Geo News. To a great extent, this decision is based on deontological ethics and the principle of categorical imperative. They clearly show how a person should act when facing an ethical dilemma.


This discussion shows that various ethical theories do not always provide unequivocal answer to ethical questions related to mass media. To some degree, the examples provided in this paper indicate that censorship of political reporting can undermine the international status of the UAE and its media industry.

Reference List

Benesh, G. (2008). CultureShock! UAE: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

Deibert, R. (2010). Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Patterson, P., & Wilkins, L. (2013). Media Ethics: Issues and Cases. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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