“One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it, another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments, and the third is the fearlessness to expose popular defects.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Communication is the procedure, which we use to exchange information by various methods and media is the medium or instrument of storing or communicating information. ‘Media’ the popular term inter-alia used as ‘Press’ denotes the print & electronic information carriers –the News Papers & Magazines, Radio, Television and currently includes Internet as new Media. The word medium comes from the Latin word medius (middle). The word communication is derived from the Latin root communicate.

Media law is a broad field which covers:

  • Advertising
  • Broadcasting
  • Censorship
  • Confidentiality
  • Contempt
  • Copyright
  • Corporate law
  • Defamation
  • Entertainment
  • Freedom of information
  • Internet
  • Information technology
  • Privacy
  • Telecommunications


There are many laws that regulate the performance of media in India. Laws related to the mass media have been there since the very beginning. In the time of the British Raj, many laws related to the Press were enacted. In the post-Independence time, the various Governments have enacted many more media related laws. Media being a very powerful influence on the society is regulated and controlled by various legislations enacted from time to time.

The Indian Constitution does not provide freedom for media separately. But there is an indirect provision for media freedom. It gets derived from Article 19(1) (a). This Article guarantees freedom of speech and expression. The freedom of mass media is derived indirectly from this Article. Article 19 of our Constitution deals with the right to freedom and it enumerates certain rights regarding individual freedom of speech and expression etc. These provisions are important and vital, which lie at the very root of liberty.

List of Acts and Rules applicable to the media industry –

  1. The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867
  2. Registration of Newspapers (Central) Rules, 1956
  3. The Press and Registration Appellate Board (Practice and Procedure) 1961
  4. The Press Council Act, 1978
  5. The Press Council Rules, 1979
  6. The Press Council (Procedure for Nomination of Members) Rules, 1978
  7. The Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) (Amendment) Regulations, 2006
  8. The Press Council (Procedure for Conduct of Meetings and Business) Regulations, 1979
  9. The Press Council of India (Grant of Certified Copies) Regulations, 1999
  10. The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
  11. The Working Journalists (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Rules, 1957
  12. The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees Tribunal Rules, 13. The Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958
  13. The Newspaper (Prices and Pages) Act, 1956
  14. The Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act, 1954
  15. The Right to Information Act, 2005
  16. The Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005
  17. The Central Information Commission (Appeal Procedure) Rules, 2005
  18. The Central Information Commission (Management) Regulations, 2007
  19. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954
  20. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Rules, 1955
  21. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950
  22. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Rules, 1982
  23. State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005
  24. State Emblem of India (Regulation of Use) Rules, 2007
  25. The Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1977
  26. The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956
  27. The Punjab Special Powers (Press) Act, 1956 (Relevant Provisions)
  28. Copyright Act, 1957
  29. The Dramatic Performances Act, 1876 (Relevant Provisions)
  30. The Cinematograph Act, 1952
  31. The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983
  32. The Cine-workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981
  33. The Cine-Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Rules, 1984
  34. The Cine-Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1981
  35. The Cine-workers Welfare Cess Rules, 1984
  36. The Cine-Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981
  37. The Cine-Workers Welfare Fund Rules, 1984
  38. The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India ) Act, 1990
  39. The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007
  40. The Sports Broadcast Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Rules, 2007
  41. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995
  42. The Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994
  43. The Radio, Television and Video Cassette Recorder Sets (Exemption from Licensing Requirements) Rules, 1997
  44. The Standards of Quality of Service (Broadcasting and Cable services) (CableTelevision – CAS Areas) Regulation, 2006
  45. 45.The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (Relevant Provisions)
  46. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997
  47. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Miscellaneous) Rules, 1999
  48. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Period for Filing of Application to Authority) Rules, 1999
  49. The Telecommunication Interconnection (Port Charges) Regulation, 2001
  50. The TRAI (Levy of Fees and Other Charges for Tariff Plans) Regulations, 2002
  51. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Form, Verification and the Fee for Filing an Appeal) Rules, 2003
  52. The Telecommunication Interconnection (Charges and Revenue Sharing) Regulation, 2001
  53. The Telecommunication Interconnection Usage Charges Regulation, 2003
  54. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Salaries, Allowances and Other Conditions of Service of Chairperson and Whole-time Members) Rules, 2000
  55. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Procedure for Conducting Inquiry Against a Member) Rules, 1999
  56. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Annual Report and Returns) Rules, 1999
  57. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Form of Annual Statement of Accounts and Records) Rules, 1999
  58. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable Services) Interconnection Regulations, 2004
  59. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Access to Information) Regulations, 2005
  60. The Common Charter of Telecom Services, 2005
  61. The Regulation on Quality of Service of Basic and Cellular Mobile Telephone Services, 2005
  62. Quality of Service (Code of Practice for Metering and Billing Accuracy) Regulation, 2006
  63. The Standards of Quality of Service (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Cable Television – CAS Areas) Regulation, 2006
  64. The Quality of Service of Broadband Service Regulations, 2006
  65. The Telecom Consumers Protection and Redressal of Grievances Regulations, 2007
  66. The Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007
  67. The International Telecommunication Access to Essential Facilities at Cable Landing Stations Regulations, 2007
  68. The Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund Regulations, 2007
  69. The Direct to Home Broadcasting Services (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulations, 2007
  70. Domestic Leased Circuits Regulations, 2007
  71. The Register of Interconnect Agreements Regulations, 1999
  72. The Indian Post Office Act, 1898 (Relevant Provisions)
  73. The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Relevant Provisions)
  74. The Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000

Sakal Papers Ltd. v. Union of India [4]

In this case, the Daily Newspapers (Price and Control) Order, 1960, which fixed a minimum price and number of pages, which a newspaper is entitled to publish, was challenged as unconstitutional. The State justified the law as a reasonable restriction on a business activity of a citizen. The Supreme Court struck down the Order rejecting the State’s argument. The Court opined that, the right of freedom of speech and expression couldn’t be taken away with the object of placing restrictions on the business activity of the citizens. Freedom of speech can be restricted only on the grounds mentioned in clause (2) of Article 19.

Hamdard Dawakhana v. Union of India

The Supreme Court was faced with the question as to whether the Drug and Magic Remedies Act, which put restrictions on the advertisements of drugs in certain cases and prohibited advertisements of drugs having magic qualities for curing diseases, was valid as it curbed the freedom of speech and expression of a person by imposing restrictions on advertisements. The Supreme Court held that, an advertisement is no doubt a form of speech and expression but every advertisement is not a matter dealing with the expression of ideas and hence advertisement of a commercial nature cannot fall within the concept of Article 19(1)(a).

Media ethics or journalism ethics is a branch of philosophy concerned with actions that are morally permissible and those that are not. Media ethics assist media workers in determining what is right and how to choose the best from several alternatives. Media ethics constitutes a normative science of conduct and must therefore be applied voluntarily. Ethics should set guidelines, rules, norms, codes and principles that will lead journalists and all other media workers to make moral decisions. They should not be forced to do so because ethics is applied voluntarily.



Reference links:

  1. https://www.slideshare.net/kashikar157/history-of-press-laws-in-india
  2. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/media.htm
  3. http://o94.at/wp-content/uploads/Introduction-to-Media-Law_EN.pdf
  4. http://www.nraismc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/106-MEDIA-LAWS.pdf
  5. http://www.nraismc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/205-PRESS-LAW-MEDIA-ETHICS-backup.pdf
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