Media Law & Regulation: What You Need to Know for 2022

The role of media, both community media, medium and small-sized media outlets, and mass media helps exercise and realize the rights and freedom of expression. Media regulation varies across the world but is regulated and enforced by laws, procedures, and rules. Media law and regulation exist to

  • Protect media freedom and freedom of expression
  • Regulate media markets, infrastructure, ownership, and technical standards.
  • Protect public interests such as diversity and media pluralism

This article highlights what you need to know about media law and regulation in 2022

Media Communications Law and Regulation

What is a media law?

Media law also known as entertainment law refers to the legal regulation of entertainment, culture, broadcasting, advertising, telecommunications, and in general anything that relates to analog and digital media. This includes video, books, photographs, audio, software, graphics, online publications, and other content. 

It covers an area of law that deals with media of all types such as; TV, radio, film, music, publishing, etc. It also stretches over other legal fields such as privacy and publicity, finance, corporate, and the First Amendment to the United States. 

There are legal issues that may arise in the field of media law. These include

  • Defamation
  • Freedom of information
  • Privacy
  • Commercial contracts
  • Employment, and intellectual property
  • Copyright


Different ways are used to regulate different parts of the media landscape. These include,

  1. Statutory Regulation. Regulatory rules or relevant legislative rules are set by the state which also ensures compliance and enforcement transparently. This website talks about government regulation on media law. Areas in this category include
  • Licensing and taxation
  • Internet regulation
  • Media diversity
  • Protection of independent public media and operational anatomy
  • Election broadcasting
  • Infrastructural and broadcasting regulation
  1. Self -Regulation. In this category, news media form their regulations and take responsibility for ensuring compliance by forming a media council. Areas of this category include
  • Training of journalists
  • Complaint mechanism
  • Codes of conduct for the journalists
  • Advertisement

Benefits of Self-Regulation

  • It preserves editorial freedom among journalists
  • It helps in making sure that there is minimal state interference
  • Media quality is promoted
  • It assures that media is accountable for everything they release
  • Readers have access to media
  • It helps by promoting better laws
  • Self-regulated media can fight or repeal unnecessary regulations.
  • Self-regulated media can name and shame corruption in the media
  1. Co-regulation. This system is a hybrid where statutory Regulation ultimately backstops self-regulation.

Categories of media communication law and regulation

Media law is subdivided into the following categories.

  1. Internet. This category deals with copyright, censorship, freedom of information, privacy, information technology, and telecommunication issues.
  2. Film. This deals with chain of title issues, option agreements, talent agreements (film directors, screenwriters, actors, productions designers, composers), pre and post-production and trade union issues, and intellectual property issues relating to copyright and trademarks. Music and music copyright law issues also fall under this category.
  3. Publishing and print media. This deals with author agreements, models, advertising, and any other issues that relate to copyright.
  4. Radio and television. This category has the greatest form of regulation. It includes mechanical licenses, regulatory issues, and broadcasting licenses. Title U.S.C section 1343 also falls under this category.
  5. Visual arts and design: issues related to the protection of graphic design elements, moral rights of sculptors in public places, fine arts, and issues of a consignment of artworks to art dealers. 

Types of media law and regulations

  1. Libel and slander

In this case, media outlets should be wary of committing acts of defamation. Libel and slander are types of legal protection that ensure such cases don’t happen. Journalists are supposed to take care of what they report to avoid cases of defamation against them and the media outlet they represent. In case of default on this law, journalists are bound to face financial and legal consequences that may also damage their reputation and that of their organization.

  1. Freedom of Information of Act

This media law and regulation ensures that everyone has access to federal documents. However, some records like those with congress, current president, and judicial government are exempt from this regulation for preservation. Even though everyone is allowed access to these records, journalists, especially those to work with mainstream media receive perks such as expedited processing and waiving of fees. 

  1. The Equal Time

This media law and regulation require that TV and radio give equal opportunities for airtime to candidates. It also ensures that media stations don’t favor some political candidates over others. This was the first major federal broadcasting law to be passed by Congress in 1927. However, interviews, documentaries, and news programs are exempt from these requirements found in Section 315.

  1. The Fairness Doctrine

This law ensures that when media stations are covering any controversial issues, they must ensure fairness and balance. However, this doctrine was considered to be controversial as journalists felt that freedom of speech and press was infringed even though it ensured equal time allocation to all viewpoints. Therefore, this law was dissolved in the 1980s and there has since been an increase in the political talk on the radio.

  1. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

This law was passed in 1998 by Congress to bring order to the online arena since it was highly unregulated. In this act, it is illegal to use devices with code-tracking to copy software illegally. It allows webcasting as long as license fees are paid by the webcasters.

  1. Copyright and Intellectual Property

These laws are identical throughout the states as they fall under the same federal jurisdiction. In this case, when people produce content, be it musical, graphical, dramatic, etc, they grant permission for their work to be produced legally. The copyright expires after several years when the content enters the public domain. Intellectual law also follows the same guidelines as copyright law which mainly aims at promoting general benefits to society.

Final Thoughts

Media law and regulation are in place to ensure that there are rules to be followed before the broadcasting of any material. It also ensures that the public is also protected. This article has been about media law and regulation that you need to know in 2022.

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