Module Identifier LA30810  
Module Title MEDIA LAW  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Ms Uta Kohl  
Semester Semester 2  
Pre-Requisite LA10110 or LA30110 or LA15710 and LA15830 or LA35830  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours Two one hour lectures per week  
  Seminars / Tutorials   4 Hours Four one hour seminars during the semester  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Students may take into the examination any material except library/text books  100%
Supplementary Exam2 Hours   
Professional Exemptions Not Required for Professional Purposes  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to describe and analyse the main features of the framework regulating communication media in Britain as well as the specific legal implications arising under discreet areas of law in respect of various communication media. Student should also be able to critically explain how media regulation seeks to strike a balance between freedom of expression and communication and other competing values. Finally, students should be able to describe and evaluate the central role of communication media and its regulation within society and how existing law is challenged by recent developments such as the Internet and technological convergence.

Brief description

The course examines the evolution of communication media generally and of mass communication more specifically, the role media plays within society, the arguments for and against regulatory intervention, the types of regulatory intervention in respect of different communication media as well as the various approaches taken in different countries to content regulation and the reasons for such divergence. Last but not least the course examines the regulatory challenges triggered by recent phenomena such as the Internet. The course content emphasises that media law is far more than the sum total of the points of contact between discreet areas of the law and the media.


The module introduces students to the legal framework regulating communication media to provide students with both the practical knowledge to assess legal problems and disputes in the fields as well as the theoretical insights in how the various and discrete legal fields affecting communication media not only shape them, but shape as well as reflect society as a whole. So the module objectives are, firstly, to familiarise students with the discrete areas of the law affecting communication media and their practical application and, secondly, to isolate the common thread underlying these legal areas. This in turn will provide the foundations for a critical assessment of the centrality of media and media regulation to society and democracy and of the challenges recent developments such as the Internet pose particularly to States which have traditionally tightly regulated the media.


1. Introduction
1.1. The evolution of media and mass media
1.2. The different types of media regulation
1.3. Rationales for and against media regulations
1.4. Technological convergence of media and its regulatory impacts
1.5. Media law and the Human Rights Act
1.6. Media law and the Internet

2. Structural Regulation: Media Ownership and Control

3. Content Regulation - Freedom of Expression and Competing Values
3.1. Positive Content Regulation eg. programming requirements
3.2. Negative Content Regulation: Limits on Freedom of Expression
? Defamation
? Commercial Speech
? Indecency and Hate Speech
? Government Secrecy

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Peter Carey (1999) Media Law 2nd. Sweet & Maxwell
Sallie Spilsbury (2000) Media Law Cavendish
Thomas Gibbons (1998) Regulating the Media 2nd. Sweet & Maxwell
Eric Barendt & Lesley Hitchens (2000) Media Law: Cases & Materials
** Recommended Consultation
Lilian Edwards & Charlotte Waelde (2000) Law & the Internet - A Framework for Electronic Commerce 2nd. Hart
Bradford L Smith (2000) The Third Industrial Revolution: Law & Policy for the Internet
Fred Siebert, Theodore Peterson & Wilbur Schramm (1956) Four Theories of the Press
Wilbur Schramm (1960) Mass Communications 2nd. Urbana: Uni of Illinois Press
Lawrence Lessig (1999) Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace New York: Basic Book
Paul Levinson (1997) The Soft Edge - A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution London: Routledge
Paul Levinson (1999) Digital McLuhan-A Guide to the Information Millenium London: Routledge


This module is at CQFW Level 6