Media law is the study of the regulation of the media, whether in traditional print form, the broadcast media, or in the online arena.
Increasingly, media regulations must be, and are being, adapted to take account of new technological developments as the dividing line between online media and traditional forms becomes less pronounced. Primarily we will be using English law as our starting point with cross jurisdictional comparisons being discussed as and where appropriate. In general however the course is thematic in nature and English law should be considered as a case study exploring how certain themes may arise and be dealt with in practice, as opposed to the be all and end all of the module coverage. The broad themes which we will explore include regulation of the distribution of material by the media – for instance, the regimes in place under the Data Protection Act 1998, or the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and how and in what circumstances those may restrict the information which the media is permitted to distribute. Information privacy and the media’s right to withhold the identity of sources will be considered. Laws regulating media output on the basis of the actual content distributed will also be analysed, including defamation issues faced by the media, blasphemy, hate speech and obscenity. In addition to considering how the general law applies to the media, we will also analyse sector-specific regulation (televisual broadcasting, advertising), and extra-legal measures such as the voluntary codes of conduct for print content administered by the IPSO and IMPRESSand the Advertising Standards Authority.