Course Description - Fall 2014

BRC 319 Course Description - page one

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I. COURSE NUMBER AND CREDIT: Broadcasting 319, 3 semester hours

II. COURSE: Regulation and Control of the Media

III. COURSE DESCRIPTION: A study of the mass media and the law, the freedoms and rights afforded to the various media via the First Amendment, and the control exercised by various governmental and societal agencies over the media. The course will examine the rights and social responsibilities of the media through the exercise of a free press, the rights and protections afforded to individuals, the ethics of the press, journalistic integrity, and pressures upon the media from governmental and economic sources. The course will examine the differences between print and electronic models and the differences in the rights afforded to these entities.

IV. PREREQUISITES: Broadcasting 108 and junior standing or permission of the instructor.


  • A. To understand the historical background to the First Amendment and Constitutional guarantees of a free press.
  • B. To provide a framework for understanding how constitutional guarantees are expressed.
  • C. To understand the differences between the print and media models in communication law.
  • D. To understand the judicial process and how it relates to the mass media.
  • E. To understand the evolutionary nature of law and how it impacts upon the media
  • F. To provide an in-depth research experience for the upper division student.
  • G. To provide an understanding of the technologies involved in the mass media and how they impact upon the telecommunications marketplace.


A. Historical underpinnings of free speech

1. Laws in ancient Greece and Rome
2. English common law
3. Development of libel and slander
4. British development of licensing
5. U.S. Constitutional development

B. Control of the press and censorship theories.

1. Totalitarian control
2. Libertarian theory
3. State ownership theory
4. Social responsibility theory
5. Seditious libel
6. Prior restraint on a free press
7. Clear and present danger
8. Time and place restrictions

C. Regulation of electronic media

1. Historical perspective
2. Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934
3. Fairness doctrine and equal time
4. Cable Acts of 1984 and 1992
5. National Information Infrastructure and First Amendment theory.
6. Telecommunications Act of 1996

D. Mass Media Law and the Court

1. Libel and slander
2. Privacy and the press
3. Journalist's privilege
4. Access to the judicial process
5. Access to government records
6. Obscenity, indecency and the First Amendment
7. Copyright, fair use, and patent law
8. Advertising rights and the First Amendment
9. Common carrier law

E. Judicial review and changes in technology

1. Historical and legal precedents
2. Antitrust law and the media
3. Ownership of electronic media
4. Licensing and eminent domain
5. Technical revolution and evolutionary impacts upon the media
6. Economic trends and new media models

Course Requirements (page 2)

Information about Abstracts (page 3)

Course Bibliography (page 4)


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