MC424      Half Unit
Media and Communication Governance

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Damian Tambini


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance). This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course begins from the assumption that media and communication can only be fully understood if their governance and its implications for citizens and consumers, as well as producers and providers, are understood. Communication governance includes all attempts by public bodies to fund, licence or otherwise regulate or govern communication services or the providers of those services, usually for an alleged public benefit. The term 'governance' refers to the norms, rules and resources together with their theoretical underpinnings that inform the production and consumption of media and communication services. This course provides students with core theoretical perspectives and concepts required to critically analyse both the substance and processes of media and communication governance. Students will compare different rationales used to justify regulation of media and communication services. Students will also develop an understanding of regulatory instruments, institutional arrangements and institutional practices that help public authorities, corporations, citizens and consumers decide how to allocate public resources for the provision of such services. Illustrations are drawn from national and international contexts, thereby presenting a multi-levelled analytical approach to governance issues in the field.

Some of the questions addressed in this course include: Under what conditions should platforms be governed? Are industry professionals or regulators best positioned to determine when broadcasting institutions adequately serve the diverse information needs of a population? To what extent should legacy media laws and policies be relaxed in the light of technological change? In what ways can 5G providers serve the public interest? These and other questions reflect the course’s focus on developing a critical, informed and authoritative account of ‘why’, ‘who’, and ‘how to’ govern media and communication services.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, participate in seminar activities, prepare seminar presentations, contribute to online discussion on Moodle and submit an essay of 1,500 words in MT.

Indicative reading

  • Bannerman, S., & Haggart, B. (2015). Historical institutionalism in communication studies. Communication Theory, 25(1), 1–22.
  • Epstein, D., Katzenbach, C., & Musiani, F. (2016). Doing internet governance: Practices, controversies, infrastructures, and institutions. Internet Policy Review, 5(3).
  • Flyverbom, M., Deibert, R., & Matten, D. (2019). The governance of digital technology, Big data, and the internet: New roles and responsibilities for business. Business & Society,  58(1), 3–19.
  • McChesney, R. W. (2013). Digital disconnect: How capitalism is turning the internet against democracy. New York: New Press.
  • Puppis, M. (2010). Media governance: A new concept for the analysis of media policy and regulation. Communication, Culture & Critique, 3(2), 134–149.
  • Yeung, K. (2008). Towards an understanding of regulation by design. In R. Brownsword & K. Yeung (Eds.), Regulating technologies: Legal futures, regulatory frames and technological fixes. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Additional reading

  • Freedman, D. (2008). Dynamics of the media policymaking process. In The politics of media policy (p. 1-53). Malden, MA: Polity.
  • Hoskins, G. (2019). Beyond ‘zero sum’: the case for context in regulating zero rating in the global South. Internet Policy Review, 8(1), n.p.
  • Lentz, B. (2013). Excavating historicity in the U.S. network neutrality debate: An interpretive perspective on policy change. Communication, Culture & Critique, 6(4), 568–597.
  • Lichtenberg, J. (1987). Foundations and limits of freedom of the press. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 16(4), 329-355.
  • Michael, E. J. (2006). Market failure and intervention. In Public policy: The competitive framework (pp. 51–97). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • McNealy, J. E. (2012). The emerging conflict between newsworthiness and the right to be forgotten. Northern Kentucky Law Review, 39(2), 119–135.
  • Moore, M., & Tambini, D. (2018). Digital dominance: The power of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Napoli, P. M. (2015). Social media and the public interest: Governance of news platforms in the realm of individual and algorithmic gatekeepers. Telecommunications Policy, 39(9), 751–760.
  • Rajadhyaksha, A. (2011). The last cultural mile: An inquiry into technology and governance in India. Bangalore, India: The Centre for Internet & Society.
  • Sandoval, M. (2014). Corporate social (ir)responsibility in media and communication industries. Javnost -The Public, 20(3), 39-57.
  • Stein, L. (2004). Understanding speech rights: Defensive and empowering approaches to the First Amendment. Media, Culture, & Society, 26(1), 103–120.
  • Streeter, T. (2013). Policy, politics, and discourse. Communication, Culture & Critique, 6(4), 488-501.
  • Xia, J. (2017). China’s telecommunications evolution, institutions, and policy issues on the eve of 5G: A two-decade retrospect and prospect. Telecommunications Policy, 41(10), 931-947.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

This is a take-home examination, and the questions are made available to students up to seven days prior to the due date.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 32.8
Merit 44.3
Pass 23
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2020/21: 23

Average class size 2020/21: 11

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills