Media law regulates the mass media - the press, broadcasting and electronic methods of communication with the public. It covers the legal constraints placed on the media by the general law of breach of confidence, defamation, contempt of court and other statutory reporting restrictions.
It also examines the central place of media freedom, the freedom to report and discuss matters of public interest, and looks at the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998, in particular the balancing act between press freedom and individual privacy. Other aspects covered include the open justice principle and its application to reporting court proceedings, protection of journalists' sources, content regulation for issues such as pornography and obscenity, and press self- regulation, including the Press Complaints Commission code and complaints procedure.
But media law is more than a list of topics: it is a dynamic and fast-changing field, with a rapidly-evolving core set of human rights values and some very difficult compromises between the competing rights of the media, those in the public eye, and the citizen's right to know about matters in which he has an interest.