Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy: PCMLP

The PCMLP is a research group based at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, which is a constituent part of the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford. 


The Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (hereinafter: PCMLP) was founded in 1996 by Professor Monroe E. Price. 

PCMLP was founded to conduct research, training and education programmes as well as to hold conferences and create a global network of practitioners, academics, and students of Media Law and Policy.

A few events that define PCMLP:

PCMLP was founded at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies with a grant from the Squadron Program.
UNESCO approves a proposal for studying conflicting approaches of international organizations, this important project paved the way to many more research projects to come.
The first Media Law and Policy Global Foundation programme takes place, welcoming participants from around the world to participate in an intensive, high level study of law, policy and regulation in a range of communications sectors.
The first Media Law Advocates Programme (hereinafter: MLAP) takes place. The MLAP aims at improving the conditions for freedom of expression in transitional democracies from within.
IMLA is founded with a membership of 50 media defenders alumni of the first 2 MLAPs.
PCMLP and partner organizations created 2 media complaints commissions in Russia.
The Annenberg School for Communication joins the network as the main sponsor of the Media Law and Policy Global Foundation programme, and the 1st Annenberg/Oxford Summer Institute takes place.
PCMLP and its close partner the IMLA network is used to collect comparative information in Amicus Brief prepared by OSJI for an important and principal case before the European Court of Human Rights.
The 100th participant of MLAP is welcomed at Oxford.
Shell International joins PCMLP as a funder.
The Monroe E. Price International Moot Court is launched – this project is aimed at inspiring law and other students to develop an interest in media law.

PCMLP people

Dr Nicole Stremlau has recently been appointed as Research Fellow and Co-ordinator of the Programme. Yik Chan Chin joined as Shell Fellow in 2007. Troels Larsen is Project Officer and Louise Scott is the Administrator. David Goldberg is Associate Fellow of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and External Consultant to PCMLP.

PCMLP has a number of Associates, media experts, with varying degrees of involvement with activities of the programme.  PCMLP welcomes interns for periods of up to 8 weeks and Academic Visitors for up to one year.

The mission of PCMLP, its objectives and activities

The PCMLP has as a mission to increase through research the understanding of the capacity of law and policy in the media field to improve democracy, human rights and economic welfare.   In addition to research, PCMLP’s goal is to have an impact in the real world by conducting projects in which the knowledge developed at the programme can be applied to strengthen freedom of expression and the rule of law particularly in developing countries (e.g. the training programme MLAP – Media Law Advocates Training Programme and IMLA – International Media Lawyers Association).

At present the field of media law and policy is mainly impacted by 3 transitions: one transition is fuelled by the underlying technology of the media currently evolving from analogue to digital; the other two transitions concern the legal and regulatory environment in which the media operate, one being the transition from totalitarism to democracy, and the other, from war to peace.   PCMLP’s main concerns are with the impact of state, regional and corporate globalisation strategies and corresponding legislation on societies world-wide.

PCMLP Research Topics

The background for the study is the Conditional Fee Agreements, which allows costs to exceed the value of the subject matter of a dispute, as for example in the case of a Member of Parliament against an English media outlet, where MP was awarded £5,000 in damages, and the media outlet in addition to its own cost, was obliged to cover the MP’s litigation cost of £387,000. Such dis-proportionality can very well lead to “chilling effects” of what the English media contributes to the public debate, and hence interfere with the right to freedom of expression.

PCMLP has been involved since its foundation in projects tailor-made to address specific work concerning media reform interventions (e.g. the Russia Media Law Networking Project which successfully created two pilot media commissions in the Russian regions).

This line of research explores whether, and if so, to what extent, the global media enjoy global protection via international and regional standards.  One example is that the almost global access to readership across the globe brought to publishers the spectrum of global libel.  Another issue concerns freedom of expression pitted against religious and cultural rights. 

Research into media regulation builds on research performed on mechanisms for self-regulation, for auditing self-regulation in traditional mass media, telecommunications and IT, among others the IAPCODE (Internet Action Plan – code) research that led to collaborative research and the preparation of the recently published book “Codifying Cyberspace: Communications Self-Regulation in the Age of Internet Convergence.

An ongoing project on the Challenge Potential of the Local: Chinese State, Local Television and Global Media investigates the contours and nature of China’s television policy and national and local television systems at a time when the political, economic and cultural contexts in which Chinese media operates are becoming increasingly globalised and localised.  A new project focuses on the relationship between the role of media and role of law and the civil rights movement in the transitional China.

Education and Conferences

Increasing the awareness of media law and media protection standards is a very important task for PCMLP.  Each year PCMLP trains between 20 and 25 media defenders (lawyers and as well as activists and advocates for media freedom) to improve the conditions in which the media operate mainly in transitional democracies in Africa, South America and Asia.

Each summer, since 2002, PCMLP - with the association it coordinates, IMLA - has been inviting practitioners, academics and interested organizations.   

Participants considered the lectures and training methods as excellent and they were pleased at the fact that 'some of the speakers were top experts in the field'.

Quotes: "This programme has been tremendously beneficial to me. Without a doubt, it has given me a massive exposure to practical problems and practical solutions. It has enriched my resources in the defence of media rights" (G. from Africa) Another participant said to us "this has been an experience of a lifetime", (S. from Africa) "Thank you for three unforgettable weeks" (A. from Latin America) and finally, a participant said to us after the moot exercise that she will seriously consider reorienting her carreer and become a trial lawyer in her country. (P. from Africa)

Moot Court Competition

Another initiative for raising the awareness and interest of Media Law and Policy is the Price Moot Court Competition. This will bring already established knowledge, i.e. practitioners, academics and interested organizations as judges, together with new and innovative ideas of tomorrow’s supporters of Media Law and Policy. The Moot Court will evolve around a fictive case exploring undiscovered territory from the opposite views of the applicant and respondent within Media Law and Policy. 

Global network

One of PCMLP’s greatest assets is the close partnership it has with two networks.  One of them is IMLA a network of Alumni of summer programmes and other media lawyers mainly from the developing world.

The other network is the PCMLP network of almost 4000 contacts in the field of media law and policy accumulated through 10 years of work.  This database is occasionally emailed re. PCMLP developments, job opportunities, etc.  The database contains some degree of detail useful to search for experts in the field of media law and policy.

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