MEDIA LAW

“One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it, another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments, and the third is the fearlessness to expose popular defects.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Communication is the method, which we always used to exchange information through various methods and media is the medium of communicating information from one person to another person. ‘Media’ the liked term inter-alia used as ‘Press’ which denotes the print and electronic information which used to carry mainly the News Papers & Magazines, Radio, Television and currently which includes Internet as new Media. Fallen as the ‘Fourth Estate’, media is the watchdog of the public affairs, informing the society and vice versa, which act as a forum to advocate the views of the society at large to those at the helm of public affairs.

The word medium comes from the Latin word medius which means middle. The word communication is acquired from the Latin root communicate.

Media law is a legal field which is related to legal regulation of the telecommunications industry, information technology, broadcasting, advertising, the entertainment industry, censorship, and internet and online services among others.

As the popularity of various media have multiplied, the field of media law has become more useful. The media would have consisted of print and live performances alone in a century ago. Today, the media contain not only the printed word and live actors, but also it includes radio, television, movies, video games, mobile devices, and the Internet. Freedom of the media has become integral part of the freedom of expression and essential requisite of a democratic government. The Indian Constitution has granted this freedom of expression as the way of Fundamental Right.  The media, which is obligated to respect the rights of individual, is also obligated to work within the framework of legal principles and statutes.  These principles/statutes have been framed to express minimum standards and do not intend to detract from higher standards of protection to the freedom of expression.

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The role of mass media in a democratic society

As we know that the Social and political life would be impossible without the existence of mass media. They often are recognized as the “fourth power”, alongside the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The mass media used to communicate political, social, ethical, cultural and other ideas, and thereby makes an important contribution to the formation of public opinion. While legislature makes the law for the society and the executive takes steps for those laws, the third stepping-stone is the judiciary, which has to ensure all actions and decisions.  The Fourth Estate i.e. the press has to operate within the framework of these constitutional provision to act in public interest.  This indicates that nobody is above the law.  When the Constitution of India guaranteed freedom of expression and speech to its citizens, it ensured that the freedom was not absolute and any expression, by way of words, speech or visual medium, did not violate any statutory provisions enacted by the legislature and executed by the executive.

Media law is a legal field that refers to the following:

  • Advertising
  • Broadcasting
  • Censorship
  • Confidentiality
  • Contempt
  • Copyright
  • Corporate law
  • Defamation
  • Entertainment
  • Freedom of information
  • Internet
  • Information technology
  • Privacy
  • Telecommunications

Local practice

While most media lawyers work for larger media outlets, even a local lawyer in a smaller city may encounter media law in their practice. Local television stations employ on-air talent for their local news shows. An on-air talent might rely on a local lawyer for contract negotiations. Local television stations often include a non-compete clause in their contracts that prevent personalities from appearing on-air for a local competitor for a period of time. A local media lawyer may carefully negotiate a non-compete clause for their client, or they may even challenge the validity of a non-compete clause in a media contract.

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In addition to on-air talent, local television stations may occasionally have disputes with their network companies. Most local television stations are independently owned and operated. Although they may receive content from a network like ABC, NBC or CBS, they usually aren’t directly owned by these companies. When a network has a dispute with their local affiliate, the local affiliate may turn to a lawyer in the community to help them resolve the issue.

International media issues

In addition to uniquely local media law issues, there are also international issues to be aware of. Other countries may have more or fewer content limitations for media than exist in the United States. There may be different rules and customs regarding piracy and intellectual property rights. Media law may even involve helping a media outlet lawfully send a reporter to another country in order to prepare a report. Media lawyers must be prepared to give their clients sound advice about how to effectively work in the media industry in another country.

Historical Perspective of Mass Media Laws

Mass Media laws in Asian country have an extended history and are deeply stock-still within the country’s colonial expertise underneath British rule. The earliest regulative measures are often derived back to 1799 once Lord Wellesley publicized the Press rules, that had the impact of imposing pre-censorship on AN babe newspaper business trade. The onset of 1835 saw the promulgation of the Press Act, that undid most of, the restrictive options of earlier legislations on the topic.

Thereafter on eighteenth June 1857, the govt. passed the ‘Gagging Act’, that among numerous alternative things, introduced obligatory licensing for the owning or running of printing presses; sceptred the govt. to ban the publication or circulation of any newspaper, book or alternative written material and prohibited the publication or dissemination of statements or news stories that had an inclination to cause a furore against the govt., thereby weakening its authority.

Then followed the ‘Press and Registration of Books Act’ in 1867 and that continues to stay good until date. governor Lord Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton publicized the ‘Vernacular Press Act’ of 1878 permitting the govt. to bound on the publication of writings deemed seditious and to impose vindicatory sanctions on printers and publishers United Nations agency didn’t fall in line. In 1908, Lord Minto publicized the ‘Newspapers (Incitement to Offences) Act, 1908 that licensed native authorities to require action against the editor of ANy newspaper that printed matter deemed to represent an incitement to rebellion.

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However, the foremost vital day within the history of Media rules was the twenty sixth of January 1950 – the day on that the Constitution was brought into force. The colonial expertise of the Indians created them realise the crucial significance of the ‘Freedom of Press’. Such freedom was thus incorporated within the Constitution; to empower the Press to disperse information to the plenty and therefore the Constituent Assembly so, set to safeguard this ‘Freedom of Press’ as a elementary right. Although, the Indian Constitution doesn’t expressly mention the freedom of the press, it’s evident that the freedom of the press is enclosed within the freedom of speech and expression underneath Article 19(1)(a).It is but pertinent to say that, such freedom isn’t absolute however is qualified by sure clearly outlined limitations underneath Article 19(2) within the interests of the general public.

Conclusion

In this age of media explosion, one cannot merely stay confined to the boundaries of the normal media. The media world has dilated its dimensions by encompassing at intervals its orbit, the widening vistas of cyber media etc. As a consequence, the laws governing them also are varied. it’s not at intervals the scope of this text to modify the full subject of media laws, however this text makes someone tuned in to the assorted vital legislations moving the assorted branches of Media Communication, creating him tuned in to his rights and facilitating him to exercise them within the framework of law existing in Republic of India and within the finish furthering the reason for “Freedom Of Speech And Expression” and “Dissemination of Knowledge”.

Author: KRISH BHATIA,
CHANDIGARH UNIVERSITY 1 YEAR BALLB

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