Broadcasting law


Broadcasting laws in England are an absolute minefield. The basic idea of the laws is to balance the right of freedom of speech with the right to privacy and not to have untrue and damaging things said about a person. Unfortunately, the balance is not an easy one to achieve and given the complex nature of media law can result in great financial loss for little apparent gain.

Whether in print, on the radio or on television, broadcasting law tightly restricts what is seen and heard by the public to promote decency and privacy.

The regulation of broadcasting

As we all know, there are already watersheds and limitations on when certain content can be shown on TV and what can be published in the papers, but broadcasting law goes deeper than that and some argue that its control over what is made available to the public actually represses journalistic freedom.

All types of broadcast are regulated by institutions, who administer certain broadcasting law codes and practices by which broadcasters must abide or face large fines, such as:

  • Ofcom
  • The Press Complaints Commission

One example of the actions which could breach these codes is called ‘door-stepping’. This is the act of confronting and recording an interview with someone on, for example, the doorstep of their home, when they are not expecting an interview.

As this could be highly intrusive to personal privacy this is now a regulated act and could mean that material obtained in such a way by a film-maker cannot be shown on television. A specialist legal advisor can assist both broadcasters and those being interviewed or filmed on how to work within the remits of the law and even how to complain against malpractice.

The increase in internet blogging

In recent months bloggers have suffered enormously under broadcasting law. Many bloggers expressing opinion and accurate statements have been forced to withdraw these statements as a result of legal action.

The problem lies in that changes in technology have allowed practically anyone to become a broadcaster and as yet laws have not changed to reflect this. This means that if a blogger prints anything that is offensive to big business, there is an increasing trend to threaten legal action.

As the cost of a broadcasting lawyer, court costs, and the risk of losing and having to pay the other side’s costs are prohibitively expensive, many bloggers are forced to back down due to having insufficient funds. Big business is in essence becoming exploitative and it is likely that the courts will recognise this when blogger cases start coming to court.

Broadcasting lawyers can assist with a wide range of issues, including:

  • Defamation
  • Libel
  • Breach of privacy

Given the international nature of broadcasting, many broadcasting lawyers have a good knowledge of international law and are well versed in national, European, international and other jurisdiction’s laws. If you are the victim of or have been accused of a defamatory statement it is vital that you contact a broadcasting lawyer to explain and defend your position.

For more information on the benefits of legal representation, see our page on using a media lawyer.

Do you have a legal issue concerning broadcasting law? Do you feel there has been a breach to your privacy, or has an untrue statement been made about you? Perhaps, you simply need a contract drafting. Whatever your legal issue, Caven can recommend a specialist media lawyer to assist you in dealing with any matters relating to broadcasting law. Please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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