Media Laws

Author: Nandini Gupta

College: Lloyd Law College


Media plays a very important role in informing people about their surroundings, the truth and the situations they live in. Media law is not a uniform and integrated body of law like the law of contract or the law of crimes but a mix of a variety of laws and ethics that are considered very important for a media industry. When the term “media law” is used, the emphasis is on the law itself. This type of emphasis diverts the focus on terms like freedom of speech, defamation, confidentiality, censorship, contempt and freedom & access to information.

Communication is the procedure, which is used to exchange information by various methods and media is the medium or instrument of storing or communicating information. ‘Media’ the popular term used as ‘Press’ denotes the print & electronic information carriers –the NewsPapers & Magazines, Television and currently includes Internet as new Media. Called as the ‘Fourth Estate’, media is the watchdog of the public affairs, informing the society and also acts as the forum to advocate the views of the society at large.

The word medium comes from the Latin word medius meaning middle and the word communication is derived from the Latin root communicate.

Media law is a legal field that point out the following:

• Advertising

• Broadcasting

• Censorship

• Confidentiality

• Contempt

• Copyright

• Corporate law

• Defamation

• Entertainment

• Freedom of information

• Internet

• Information technology

• Privacy

• Telecommunications

The growth rate is financed by strong consumption in Tier 2 and 3 cities which continued growth of regional media and fast increasing new media business. The traditional media businesses experienced a slow down compared to last year, particularly in the second half of the year. However, When Europeans write on the history of the media, they refer to the Acta diurna of the Roman Empire as closely related to the newspaper of today.

Article 19 of the Indian constitution says that All the citizens have the right of freedom of speech and expression, to acquire hold and dispose of property.

Akhbar is the word used for newspapers in Hindi and Urdu languages and Babur mentions it in such a way as if it is something normal. It was meant for an official announcement by Babur that a tax would be abandoned on all Muslims if he won the battle and he himself had given up drinking and banned liquor in his supremacy. However, there is nowhere mentioned any regulation on akhbar. The earliest mention of pre-typographic newspapers is to be found in a contemporary historical work of the later Mughal times. The size of these 17th century papers which were written in different hands was 8 inches by 4½ inches. Perhaps, there was neither pre-censorship nor licensing, both being Western institutions media segments like Animation and VFX, Online and Gaming businesses observed phenomenal growth rates.

Under the British rule the Mass Media laws have a long history and are embedded in the country’s colonial experience. The earliest regulatory measures can be traced back to 1799 when Lord Wellesley publicized the Press Regulations which had the effect of imposing pre-censorship on an infant newspaper publishing industry. The onset of 1835 saw the proclamation of the Press Act, which undid most of the features of earlier legislations on the subject.

In the year 1857, the government passed the ‘Gagging Act’, which among introduced compulsory licensing for the owning of printing presses that empowered the government to prohibit the publication of any newspaper, book or other printed material and banned the publication or circulation of statements or news stories which had a tendency to cause an uproar against the government, thereby depressing its author.

UnLike censorship, licensing was not a European institution which controlled the press.

In India few of the segments of the Media and Entertainment Industry are as follows:

• Television

• Print

• Films

• Radio

• Music

• Animation

• Gaming

• Advertising

Media in the United States comprises several different types of widespread communication like television, radio, cinema, newspapers and Internet-based websites. American media tends to be the leading global players, generating substantial revenue that did not mention fierce opposition in many parts of the world. Critics allege that localism, media spending and coverage of news, and diversity of ownership have suffered as a result of such processes.

Most media organizations in India are in the private sector, while a few are

owned by the government. The government media units in which one can seek opportunities are - Akashvani (All India Radio), Prasar Bharti, Doordarshan, Direct to Home, Publication Division, Photo Division, Registrars of newspapers, Press Council of India, Song and Drama Division, Film Division, National Film Archive of India, Central Board of Film Certification, Children’s Film society etc.

The Indian press predominantly are in the hands of the private sector. News agencies like Press Trust of India, United News of India, Hindustan Samachar and Samachar Bharati form the major sources for spreading information to the public.

It is very much important that the published news is within the domain of the ethics of the media person or the journalists. One should see that the information communicated is truthful and leads the mass in a proper direction and obviously does not create a negative impact. In a society the law provides every individual a right to maintain and protect his reputation. The co- relation of media and defamation cannot be concluded to the end as it is a wide topic having a broad perspective. Defamation and media are the two paths of the same road i.e., they go hand in hand. These terms need not to overlap each other.

There are many laws that rules and regulates the performance of media in India. The mass media laws have been there since the very beginning. Many laws related to the Press were enacted in the time of the British Raj.

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