Julian Petley**



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, now publishing mainly online in sites such as Open Democracy, The Conversation, and Inform. He is also a member of the editorial board of the British Journalism Review and of the advisory board of Index on Censorship. As a member of the National Council of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and a supporter of Hacked Off he actively campaigns for media which  are both free from restrictions which stop  them from performing  their proper social functions but, equally importantly, behave responsibly and display the same degree of openness and public accountability which  they habitually demand from other institutions. This work involves making numerous submissions to official enquiries of one kind or another (including the Leveson Inquiry), giving evidence to parliamentary select committees, liaising with like-minded civil society groups, and maintaining a high media profile. All of this activity feeds directly into his teaching and research at Brunel. 

Research area(s)

  • media policy and regulation


Research interests

Julian' s research interests mirror his teaching interests, namely media policy and regulation, and British cinema and television.. 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. He also gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

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. His work on public service broadcasting led him to be asked to join the advisory committee of the Commission into Public Service Broadcasting in the 21st Century, chaired by Lord Puttnam. 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, and he has been heavily involved in trying to ensure that Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals on the self-regulation of the press are put into effect. 

Julian also has a strong and long-standing interest in British cinema and television, and is the principal editor of the Journal of British Cinema and Television.



Julian's main interests in media policy and regulation, and in particular in how these impact upon the output of the various different media, 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.  

Julian’s interest in British cinema and television fully informs his second level module, British Cinemas, British Identities.

Selected Publications

Journal articles

Petley, J.   (2015)   'Witch-hunt: The word, the press and the Devils'. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 12 (4).  pp. 515 - 538. doi: 10.3366/jbctv.2015.0283 

Petley, J.   (2015)   'Richard Hoggart and Pilkington: populism and public service broadcasting'. Ethical Space, 12 (1).  pp. 4 - 14. 

Petley, J.   (2014)   'The state journalism is in: Edward Snowden and the British Press'. Ethical Space, 11 (1-2).  pp. 9 - 18. Download publication 

Petley, J.   (2014)   'The regulation of pornography on video-on-demand in the United Kingdom'. Porn Studies, 1 (3).  pp. 260 - 284. doi: 10.1080/23268743.2014.927705 Download publication 

Petley, J.   (2013)   'Shouldn't Freedom be Good for All?'. British Journalism Review, 24 (3).  pp. 33 - 38. doi: 10.1177/0956474813504883 

Petley, J.   (2013)   'Panic stations: Surveillance in the UK'. Index on Censorship, 42 (1).  pp. 70 - 74. doi: 10.1177/0306422013479269 

  (2012)   'The Leveson Inquiry: Journalism ethics and press freedom'. Journalism, 13 (4).  pp. 529 - 538. doi: 10.1177/1464884912443498 

David, M. , Rohloff, A. , Petley, J.  and Hughes, J.   (2011)   'The idea of moral panic – ten dimensions of dispute'. Crime, Media, Culture, 7 (3).  pp. 215 - 228. doi: 10.1177/1741659011417601 

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

Petley, J.   (2009)   'Pornography, panopticism and the criminal justice and immigration Act 2008'. Sociology Compass, 3 (3).  pp. 417 - 432. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00212.x Download publication 

Petley, J.   (2009)   'Trash or treasure? Censorship and the changing meaning of the video nasties'. J Brit cine television, 6 (2).  pp. 326 - 331. doi: 10.3366/E1743452109000995 

Petley, J.   (2009)   'Book review of Why democracies need an unlovable press by Michael Schudson, published in Cambridge by Polity Press'. Journalism Studies, 10 (6).  pp. 870 - 871. doi: 10.1080/14616700903257659 

Petley, J.   (2009)   'Web control'. Index on censorship, 38 (1).  pp. 78 - 90. doi: 10.1080/03064220802712266 

Julius, A.  and Petley, J.   (2009)   'Crimes of transgression'. Index on censorship, 38 (1).  pp. 50 - 58. doi: 10.1080/03064220802712209 

Petley, J.   (2007)   'New labour, old morality'. Index on Censorship, 36 (2).  pp. 132 - 140. doi: 10.1080/03064220701333073 Download publication 

Petley, J.   (2006)   'Appearance and reality'. Index on censorship, 35 (1).  pp. 15 - 20. doi: 10.1080/03064220600577192 

Petley, J.   (2006)   'Nonsense on stilts'. Index on Censorship, 35 (3).  pp. 14 - 20. doi: 10.1080/03064220600903166 Download publication 

Petley, J.   (2006)   'The retreat of reason'. Index on Censorship, 35 (4).  pp. 8 - 14. doi: 10.1080/03064220601027114 Download publication 

Petley, J.   (2004)   'Is there a British film industry?'. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 1 (1).  pp. 129 - 136. doi: 10.3366/JBCTV.2004.1.1.129 Download publication 

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

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

Petley, J.   (2002)   'The re-regulation of broadcasting: Or the mill owners’ triumph'. Journal of Media Practice, 3 (3).  pp. 131 - 140. doi: 10.1386/jmpr.3.3.131 Download publication 

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

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

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

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

Petley, J.   (1999)   '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).  pp. 190 - 193. 

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

Petley, J.   (1998)   'Smashed hits'. Index on Censorship, 27 (6).  pp. 10 - 19. doi: 10.1080/03064229808536446 

Petley, J.   (1998)   'A case of mistaken identity'. Index on Censorship, 30 (3).  pp. 20 - 30. doi: 10.1080/03064228908536935 Download publication 

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

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

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

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

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

Petley, J.   (1996)   '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).  pp. 162 - 166. 

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

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


Petley, J.   (2013) Media and Public Shaming: Drawing the Boundaries of Disclosure. London:  I. B. Tauris 

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

Petley, J.   (2011) Film and video censorship in modern Britain.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book chapters

Petley, J.  (2015)   'The Censors' Tools', in Conboy, M.  and Steel, J. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to British Media History.  London Routledge pp. 437 - 448. 

Petley, J.  (2014)   ''Horror and the censors'', in Benshoff, H. (ed.) Chichester Wiley Blackwell pp. 130 - 147. 

Petley, J.  (2014)   'Facts, informed opinion and mere opinion', in Mair, J. , Tait, R.  and Keeble, R. (eds.) Is the BBC in Crisis?.  Bury St Edmunds Abramis pp. 121 - 134. Download publication 

Petley, J.  (2014)   ''Kill a kid and get a house': rationality versus retribution in the case of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, 1993-2001.', in Wagg, S.  and Pilcher, J. (eds.) Thatcher's Grandchildren? Politics and Childhood in the Twenty-First Century.  Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillan pp. 1 - 26. 

Petley, J.  (2012)   'Jurgen Habermas: The Modern Media and the Public Sphere', in Berry, D. (ed.) Revisiting the Frankfurt School.  Farnham Ashgate Publishing pp. 139 - 159. 

Petley, J.  (2013)   'Leveson and Operation Motorman: Lessons from a Debacle over Data Protection', in Gordon, J. , Rowinski, P.  and Stewart, G. (eds.) Br(e)aking the News: Journalism, Politics and New Media.  Bern Peter Lang pp. 5 - 27. 

Petley, J.  (2013)   'On Privacy: From Mill to Mosley', in Petley, J. (ed.) Media and Public Shaming.  London I. B. Tauris pp. 59 - 77. 

Petley, J.  (2013)   'Public Interest or Public Shaming?', in Petley, J. (ed.) Media and Public Shaming.  London I. B. Tauris pp. 19 - 42. 

Petley, J.  (2013)   ''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 pp. 131 - 153. 

Petley, J.  (2013)   ''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 pp. 73 - 98. 

Petley, J.  (2013)   'The Censor and the State in Britain', in Biltereyst, D.  and Vande Winkel, R. (eds.) Silencing Cinema: Film Censorship around the World.  Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillan pp. 149 - 165. 

Petley, J.  (2012)   '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 

Petley, J.  (2012)   'The Struggle Continues: the Miners' Campaign Video Tapes', in Popple, S.  and Macdonald, IW. (eds.) Digging the Seam: Popular Culture of the 1984/5 Miners' Strike.  Newcastle upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars pp. 87 - 97. 

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

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

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

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

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

Page last updated: Tuesday 08 March 2016