Julian Petley


Professor of Screen Media

Room: Gaskell Building 164
Brunel University
United Kingdom
Tel: 01895 265 479
Email: julian.petley@brunel.ac.uk


During his career, Julian has moved back and forth between working in the media and teaching about the media, and although he has been a full-time academic for the past twenty years he is still an active freelance journalist, and is a member of the editorial board of the British Journalism Review and of the advisory board of Index on Censorship. He is also chair of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, in which role he actively campaigns for a media which is both free from restrictions which stop it from performing its proper social functions but, equally importantly, behaves responsibly and displays the same degree of openness and public accountability which it habitually demands from other institutions. This work involves making numerous submissions to official enquiries of one kind or another, giving evidence to parliamentary bodies such as select committees, liaising with like-minded civil society groups, and maintaining a high media profile. All of this activity feeds directly into my teaching and research at Brunel. 

Research and Teaching

Research Overview

Julian' s  research interests mirror  his teaching interests, namely media policy and regulation.  He has  written very widely about censorship in its various forms and in different media as a form of regulation, but he has always been at pains to point out that censorship is not simply a matter of laws and rules which limit certain forms of expression, but also include political and economic factors as well, not least market forces and proprietorial power and influence. Furthermore,  he has  consistently argued that certain forms of regulation, namely those which attempt to regulate into the media desirable qualities such as diversity and public accountability actually increase media freedom in the broad sense of the word. These are central themes of  his published work and, both as an academic and a member of various civil society groups,  he has  been heavily involved in trying to shape government policy by making research-based submissions to the consultations preceding the 1990 Broadcasting Act and the 2003 Communications Act, as well as to the various enquiries into press self-regulation conducted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

His  work argues strongly against the ‘de-regulation’ of public service broadcasting, pointing out that this is actually a process of ‘re-regulation’ in which regulations designed to protect the public interest are replaced by ones designed to promote corporate interests. At the same time,  his work argues that the present system of ‘self-regulation’ of the press serves only the interests of newspapers, their editors and owners, and needs to be replaced by a system which is genuinely independent of the press and operates above all in the public’s interest. As such,  Julian' s work engages constantly with matters of wide and immediate public concern. 

Teaching Activity

Julian's main interests are in the fields of media policy and regulation, and in particular in how these impact upon the output of the various different media. These interests are particularly evident in the third year module, Media Freedom and Regulation, in which he examines what is generally meant by freedom of expression (and in particular press freedom), and analyses how the press, broadcasting, films and DVDs, and the Internet are regulated in Britain.  His work with organisations such as Index on Censorship, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and Hacked Off ensures that his teaching is thoroughly informed by an active, day-to-day engagement with current media matters. He gave both oral and written evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.



Journal Papers

(2012) Petley, J., The Leveson Inquiry: Journalism ethics and press freedom, Journalism 13 (4) : 529- 538

(2011) David, M., Rohloff, A., Petley, J. and Hughes, J., The idea of moral panic – ten dimensions of dispute, Crime, Media, Culture 7 (3) : 215- 228

(2009) Julius, A. and Petley, J., Crimes of transgression, Index on censorship 38 (1) : 50- 58

(2009) Petley, J., Pornography, panopticism and the criminal justice and immigration Act 2008, Sociology Compass 3 (3) : 417- 432

(2009) Petley, J., Trash or treasure? Censorship and the changing meaning of the video nasties, J Brit cine television 6 (2) : 326- 331

(2009) Petley, J., Web control, Index on censorship 38 (1) : 78- 90

(2009) Petley, J., What rights? Whose responsibilities?, Soundings 77- 88

(2009) Petley, J., Book review of Why democracies need an unlovable press by Michael Schudson, published in Cambridge by Polity Press, Journalism Studies 10 (6) : 870- 871

(2007) Petley, J., New labour, old morality, Index on Censorship 36 (2) : 132- 140 Download publication

(2006) Petley, J., Appearance and reality, Index on censorship 35 (1) : 15- 20

(2006) Petley, J., Nonsense on stilts, Index on Censorship 35 (3) : 14- 20 Download publication

(2006) Petley, J., The retreat of reason, Index on Censorship 35 (4) : 8- 14 Download publication

(2004) Petley, J., Is there a British film industry?, Journal of British Cinema and Television 1 (1) : 129- 136 Download publication

(2004) Petley, J., Popular cinema of the Third Reich, Screen 45 (1) : 83- 89

(2003) Petley, J., Consumers or citizens? Re-regulating communications, Radical philosophy (120) : 7- 10

(2002) Petley, J., From Brit-flicks to shit-flicks: The cost of public subsidy, The Journal of Popular British Cinema 5 (1) : 37- 52

(2002) Petley, J., The re-regulation of broadcasting: Or the mill owners’ triumph, Journal of Media Practice 3 (3) : 131- 140 Download publication

(2001) Petley, J., Message received, Sociology 35 (1) : 245- 246

(2000) Petley, J., Laughs and sneezes: Comedy and anti-fascism, Index on censorship 29 (6) : 156- 162

(2000) Petley, J., Video victories (against Britain's censorship of 'porn" videos), Index on censorship 29 (4) : 22- 24

(1999) Petley, J., Dishing the dirt - Satellite television in Kurdish language: Med-TV, Index on censorship 28 (4) : 27- 30

(1999) Petley, J., SLAPPS and chills - This year's round-up of television troubles concentrates specifically on the bullying of broadcasters and asks: are they being SLAPPed around?, Index on censorship 28 (1) : 190- 193

(1998) Petley, J., Smashed hits, Index on Censorship 27 (6) : 10- 19

(1998) Petley, J., Smashed hits - The methods of music censorship, Index on Censorship 27 (6) : 10- 19 Download publication

(1998) Petley, J., An unsavoury business (The burger giant McDonald and the film "Jungleburger"), Index on censorship 27 (5) : 64- 67 Download publication

(1998) Petley, J., A case of mistaken identity, Index on Censorship 30 (3) : 20- 30 Download publication

(1997) Petley, J., 'Crash' course 2 + response to Alexander Walkers case against the article, 'Road Rage', Sight & Sound 7 (9) : 64- 64

(1997) Petley, J., Entertaining the Third-Reich: Illusions of wholeness in Nazi cinema - SchulteSasse,L, Screen 38 (3) : 287- 295

(1997) Petley, J., The ministry of illusion: Nazi cinema and its afterlife - Rentschler,E, Screen 38 (3) : 287- 295

(1996) Petley, J., Fact plus fiction equals friction, Media Cult Soc 18 (1) : 11- 25

(1996) Petley, J., Savoy scrapbook + the legal battles against britton, david novel'lord horror' and the publisher savoy-books under britain's obscene-publications-act, Index on censorship 25 (1) : 162- 166

(1995) Petley, J., 'Clockwork' crimes + kubrick, film violence - chronicles of a cause-celebre, Index on censorship 24 (6) : 48- 52

Book Chapters

(2013) Petley, J., 'Are We Insane': The 'Video Nasty' Moral Panic.. In: Critcher, C., Hughes, J., Petley, J. and Rohloff, A. eds. Moral Panics in the Contemporary World. London : Bloomsbury 73- 98

(2013) Petley, J., 'The Following Content is not Acceptable'. In: Attwood, F., Campbell, V., Hunter, IQ. and Lockyer, S. eds. Controversial Images: Media Representations on the Edge. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan 131- 153

(2012) Petley, J., Head-on Collisions: the BBFC in the 1990s. In: Lamberti, E. ed. Behind the Scenes at the BBFC: Film Classification from the Silver Screen to the Digital Age. London : BFI/Palgrave Macmillan

(2011) Petley, J., Doublethink: 'Deregulation', censure and 'adult sex' on television. In: Bramham, P. and Wagg, S. eds. The New Politics of Leisure and Pleasure. Basingstoke : Palgrave

(2011) Petley, J., Rules, Recycling, Filters and Conspiracies: Nick Davies and the Propaganda Model. In: Journalists, Sources and Credibility: New Perspectives. London : Routledge 75- 89

(2009) Petley, J., Nazi Horrors: History, Myth, Sexploitation. In: Conrich, I. ed. Horror Zone. I B Tauris & Co Ltd -

(2009) Petley, J., Impartiality in Television News: Profitability Versus Public Service. In: Allan, S. ed. The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism Studies. Routledge -

(2009) Petley, J., What Fourth Estate?. In: Bailey, M. ed. Narrating Media History. Abingdon : Routledge


(2013) Critcher, C., Hughes, J., Petley, J. and Rohloff, A., Moral panics in the contemporary world. Bloomsbury Academic

(2011) Petley, J., Film and video censorship in contemporary Britain. Edinburgh University Press

(2011) Petley, J., Pointing the finger: Islam and Muslims in the British media. Oneworld Publications

(2010) Wayne, M., Petley, J., Murray, C. and Henderson, L., Television news, politics and young people: Generation disconnected?. Palgrave Macmillan

(2009) Petley, J., Censorship: a Beginner's Guide. One World

(2007) Petley, J., Censoring the word. Oxford: Seagull Books

(2005) Petley, J., Curran, J. and Gaber, I., Culture wars: the media and the British left. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

(2001) Petley, J. and Barker, M., Ill effects: the media/violence debate. London: Routledge

Page last updated: Tuesday 18 June 2013