German media law

What does „media law“means?

Media law as a separate legal area in the form of a single Act or even systematically from a legal view of ordered norms is not legally relevant in itself. The “Media Act” came from the former “new media” (BTX, modem, cable transmission, etc.). The term is still sector-oriented to the present, but encompasses both classical and “new” forms of media. As lawyers specialized in media law, we deal with the areas of classical media law, such as broadcasting law, broadcasting licenses rights, mechanical and performance rights, publishing rights, telecommunications law, but also all adjoining legal areas such as copyright, press law, film law, music law and data protection law. Of course, the focus is on aspects of new media such as eCommerce, eGovernment, ePayment (such as bitcoins), cloud computing or sales platforms such as iTunes or Amazon / eBay as well as the use of personal protective rights or third party rights, or third party websites, distribution platforms for media content and, in general, competition and antitrust law.

Where are „media law” regulated?

“Media law” is initially standardized in media-specific regulations such as state press laws, broadcasting laws, broadcasting agreements, telecommunications law, tele-media law, etc. However, the branch approach leads to the fact that media law also includes neighbouring legal areas with media references such as, for example, competition law, copyright, trademark law, publishing rights, anti-protection legislation, etc.

Media Law foundations using the Lower Saxony´s regulation as example:

The media enjoys special protection under Article 5 of the Basic German Law (Grundgesetzt). There is a very comprehensive basic right of freedom of opinion and press, which clearly shows the limits of state influence. On the other hand, it is not to be overlooked that media have a great influence. They inform, entertain and represent opinions. Media does not only represent reality; they also shape the reality in which we live. In view of the strong position of the media in our information society and its high socio-political importance, it is necessary – within the limits of Article 5 – to regulate and correct, if necessary, the media law system.

The legislative competence for those above-mentioned broadcasting laws depends on the German regions (Länder). To ensure that there are no 16 different regulations for the nation-wide electronic media (radio, television and online services), the regions have agreed in state treaties on federal legal bases. Thus, there are a number of different broadcasting state contracts (for example, the ARD State Treaty, the ZDF State Treaty, the Broadcasting State Treaty). In Lower Saxony, we also have the Lower Saxony Media Act for nationwide and regional private broadcasting. It regulates the organization of broadcasting of private broadcasters, media services in cable systems and the allocation of transmission capacities. The supervisory authority for private broadcasting is the Niedersächsische Landesmedienanstalt (NLM).

The legal basis for the activity of the Norddeutsche Rundfunks (NDR) is regulated in the NDR-Staatsvertrag. The NDR is a public service broadcasting corporation and is supported alongside the states of Lower Saxony, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein. The Broadcasting Council has the program supervision on the NDR. The Lower Saxony Press Act applies to the area of the so-called print media (primarly newspapers and magazines). This includes, for example, the right to information and the due diligence of the press, the requirements for an imprint (Impressum), and the right to a regional representation.

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