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All legal issues and legal regulations that relate to the media (tv, radio, press, book, film, internet) or result from them
*Not all legal matters related to media are media law.
Fields of law belonging to Media law

All national laws and regulations as well as international treaties that regulate
the freedom of reporting, tasks, approval, organisation, state supervision, financing and
journalistic principles of television and radio.
The entirety of all provisions that regulate the general legal status of the Press. (periodically published printed products)
Constitutional guarantee of the freedom of the Press
– Information acquisition and the right of journalists to refuse to give evidence about their
– Obligation to publish an imprint.
– Obligation to publish replies to false factual allegations.
– Regulations on limiting of Press freedom to protect personal rights and privacy.
TElecommunications law
Legal regulations on the technical process of conveying data,
regardless of their content. Telecommunications laws regulate in the telecommunications sector
the technical process of the sending, transmission and reception of signals through
corresponding technical systems. The purpose of the regulation is to guarantee services and
telecommunications infrastructures that are as far-reaching as possible, to regulate frequency
assignments, and to promote competition between state and private telecommunications
companies and between private enterprises. For example, such regulations which affect the
operation and access to cable networks and mobile telephony services, and network providers
that only make their supply networks available without offering content themselves.
Multimedia law
Legal regulations covering so-called “New Media”, which compared to customary media are characterised by digitisation.
Due to digitisation, every type of information (text,
photos, graphics, audio, video) can be broken down into binary characters and converted to a
digital “standard language” so that different forms of information are interchangeable. This means
that the different services (media) can be linked with each other. By means of the Internet, all
these services can fundamentally be brought into play as wished, and in particular it enables
interactivity. The result: customary media law concepts are becoming more difficult to apply.
Copyright law
Legal regulations to protect intellectual works of literature, science and art, such as novels, paintings, music, films, academic papers, and buildings.
Is there media freedom or freedom of information as a worldwide and universally valid human
right as the basis of every media law order for every land:
within the meaning of the right of the individual in relation to the respective state:
– to obtain information from generally accessible sources,
– to run radio and television stations, have Internet connections,
– disseminate his/her opinion also in the mass media?
Art. 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly in 1948):
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to
hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
– But: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a binding international law for the UN
states, but only a non-binding recommendation of the UN General Assembly.
Art. 19 of the „International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (1966):
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
International pact on civil and political rights applies to 161 states (Germany since 1973, the USA
since 1992) and is for these states a binding international treaty right.
• But Para. 1: “unimpeded freedom of opinion” = a purely private right to form and hold an opinion
= freedom of thought: not also: freedom of expressing an opinion.
EXTRA: Article 20
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
International Media LAW
international law which regulate facts and circumstances relating to the media
International regulations are in place in the sectors of trading in media-relevant goods (such as
PCs, technical installations), services (such as film production, software), protection of
intellectual property (copyright, trademark law), distribution of station frequencies, etc.
• Broadcasting regulations (television, radio) are worldwide predominantly national law.
• The basic principles of the international media law (freedom of opinion and information) are not
really devised as binding for all UN treaty states.
European basic principles of freedom of communication
Art. 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
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– Council of Europe: international organisation founded in 1949 (based in Strasbourg) to
promote human rights and freedom in Europe.
– It has 47 members, including European Union countries, Georgia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine.
Art. 10 ECHR: “Freedom of expression
1) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold
opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public
authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the
licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
(2) The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be
subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and
are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity
or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals,
for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of
information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
European Court of Human Rights(ECtHR): freedom of communication is the necessary
foundation of every democratic society and thus as a basic prerequisite for all societal progress:
„Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a society, one of the basic
conditions for its progress and for the development of every man.“
(ECtHR of 07.12.1976 in the case of Handyside v. UK)
Art. 10 ECHR protects the right of telling others one’s opinion. Protected are:
– Allegations of fact and value judgments/opinions.
Not only opinions as a contribution to public discussion in a state, which thus are the basis of democratic development, but also purely private and commercial expressions of opinion (such as advertising).
Art. 10 ECHR also covers Press freedom, even if it is not expressly mentioned:
Freedom of press = Dissemination of information via periodically published printed matter
(newspaper, magazine etc.).
– In the foreground, the acquisition of information by journalists and the confidentiality on
sources of information linked with it is protected (right to refuse to give evidence).
– ECtHR: The Press has the role of a “public watchdog” that must be able to obtain
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information as unhindered as possible; the precondition of Press freedom as an essential
foundation of every democratic society is the protection of journalistic sources.
(ECtHR of 27.03.1996 in the case of Goodwin v. UK)
Interferences in Press freedom are permitted only in the case of “pressing social need” or to
protect privacy and personal rights (Paparazzi).