Regulation of Communications

Subject LAWS70182 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

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:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

The electronic communications industries are arguably among 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 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.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of key principles of communications law in Australia and comparable jurisdictions
  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal principles
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to communications law
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving law reform
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding communications law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of communications law.
  • Class participation (10%)
  • Take-home examination (90%) (11-14 December)
  • 8,000 word research paper (90%) (10 February 2016) 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:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Communications Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Commercial Law
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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