Regulation of Communications

Subject LAWS70182 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2013:

August, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

The electronic communications industries are arguably amongst the most heavily regulated sectors of the Australian economy. Australia’s current regulatory arrangements arose in the 1990s and reflect the structure of the electronic communications industries at that time – focusing on the separate and highly prescriptive regulation of broadcasting and telecommunications. The current regulatory framework is fragmented and complex, and covers not only technical issues but also sector specific competition, content and ownership rules. Since the 1990s, however, the communications environment in Australia has undergone a period of rapid and profound change. This change has resulted in the availability of a greater range of communication and content services, the emergence of new services not previously imagined and the restructuring of industry players and relationships. This subject explores the current regulatory arrangements and the various proposals to replace them with regulation that is better equipped to respond to the challenges facing the various sectors of the communications industry and the reality of convergence between them.

Principal topics will include:

  • What is communications law? (including different regulatory approaches)
  • Regulation of communications services, including radio and television services
  • Australian content rules
  • Control and ownership of broadcasting and communications enterprises
  • Digital broadcasting law and regulation
  • Pay TV and the anti-siphoning regime
  • Competition in telecommunications (including regulation of anticompetitive practices, NBNCo and the structural separation of Telstra)
  • Interconnection law and policy
  • Spectrum allocation (including licensing and spectrum auctions)
  • Consumer protection issues
  • Regulation of internet content and filtering
  • Multi-channelling of free-to-air TV services
  • Regulation of new services and technologies, including convergence of media and Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should have:

  • A detailed understanding of important current legal and policy issues affecting the communications sector, including digital broadcasting, pay TV, internet regulation, convergence and mobile communications
  • A critical awareness of the Australian approach to broadcasting, spectrum and telecommunications regulation, including regulatory arrangements involving the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Well-developed techniques for evaluating Australian communications law from international and comparative perspectives on media regulation and free speech
  • A familiarity with legal issues concerning new and emerging services, including future developments in digital broadcasting, internet regulation and next-generation networks (NGNs).

Class participation (10%)

Take-home examination (90%) (4–7 October)
8,000 word research paper (90%) (20 November) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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