1) Identify the area of laws that are relevant to the chosen media report, and explain how they are relevant to the matters outlined in the report
. This media article commentates about the link-up between the radio station of Macquarie Radio Network and that of Fairfax Media’s Radio Business. The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) authorized the merger. The ACCC encourages competition and legal and equitable trade in the market to profit businesses, the community and consumers. They are Australia’s competition regulator and National Consumer law champion (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 2015). Administrative law In order for the merger to take place, it should undergo various processes. Each company should apply for a licence providing all appropriate details in order to be able to operate legally in the future. The body that is responsible for handling all the rules of the paperwork is the ACCC. These rules are known as the administrative law. To further explain, administrative law are those rules and regulations that govern the processes of any official decision making; in this case, application for the link-up of Macquarie Radio Network and Fairfax Media’s radio business. As this article reports, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted the proposal of the merger. This decision making process falls under the category of the administrative law. Furthermore it is also stated that the ACCC granted licences for Macquarie Radio in Sydney for radio stations 2CH, 2UE and 2GB. The licensing also falls under the administrative law. Consumer Protection Law Consumer protection law concerns the provisions government provides in order to help protect the rights of consumers while dealing with their supplies of goods or services. By considering the effects of this link-up on the radio advertising prices, quality of service delivered such as news and other radio programmes and variety of radio stations available for customers, the national competition regulator protected the rights of consumers. The ACCC made sure that despite this link up, customers will continue to benefit from a variety of radio programmes to choose from. Property Law The article quotes that Sydney’s 2UE, the 3AW of Melbourne, 4BC of Brisbane and 6PR of Perth will belong to Fairfax Radio and radio stations 2CH and 2GB will be owned by Macquarie Radio. Property law is all about acquiring private rights in goods and lands. In this case, both Radio companies own their respective radio stations and are therefore entitled under the property law. Trespassing of any private show will lead to legal consequences. The consideration of the contract is also a form of property law. As mentioned in the article, after the completion of the deal Macquarie Radio would own Fairfax Media’s radio assets and the latter would own 54.5 percent of Macquarie Radio. Contract Law There are various forms of contract law, some formal, some informal. In this article it is a commercial relationship. Therefore in order for the merger to occur, there must have been some paperwork and agreements to begin with. These agreements are referred to as contracts. The contract for the merger exists because there is a serious intention from both radio stations, an agreement between them and a consideration being the 54.5 percent ownership for Fairfax Media and the latter’s assets for Macquarie Radio. Furthermore it is also mentioned in the article that this contract is a new multi-million dollar one and the amount of money needed to be invested is quoted $200 million. Though, this amount is still subject to the approval of the shareholders. The contract law allows rights and duties that can be legally enforced. A breach of contract may lead to serious legal actions such as fine. 2) Demonstrate how the law functions in these various ways, by reference to specific examples within the chosen media report and the areas of law you identified in question 1.
For this particular function, the law that best supports this statement is the contract law. One good example from the article could be the link-up. This link-up helped the Macquarie Radio and the Fairfax Media to plan their business ventures as one big company. Knowing that their application has been sanctioned and that they each own a certain amount of assets it is easier for them to get involved in future transactions. Also, as mentioned in the article, they both now own their share of radio shows and Macquarie Radio would also be licensed for Sydney stations’ 2UE, 2CH and 2GB once the deal is sealed. This information can help them plan their future investments knowing now they own these shows. However the merger’s worth is quite high and this is still subject to the approval of the shareholders and may comprise of an element of risk. On a more positive note though, this is another example as to how a contract can ensure predictability. The fact that the owners are aware of the amount of money needed to be invested, they can plan on a strategy to raise money on their own or publicly by selling shares.
- Ensures reasonable predictability in daily life.
A good example of this function could be the proper investigation ACCC carried out before giving the go ahead. The consumer protection law encompasses a clause where consumers have the right to proper disclosure of information within a firm in order to be able to make informed choices depending on their needs and wants. The ACCC dutifully made sure that the radio stations would still face competition and that audiences would continue receiving good quality content. The advertising agencies, who are also the consumers of the radio station, will still get reasonable advertising prices. Therefore, by creating such a clause, the law is encouraging transparency of businesses and fair trade and discouraging or rather minimizing fraud and corruption.
- Encourages and discourages certain conduct.
Given Fairfax Media owns the 2UE, 3AW, 4BC and 6PR and Macquarie Radio owns 2GB and 2CH they have certain rights on these stations. These rights are the property rights. Having these property rights, the owners of these stations can exert certain powers which allow them to take decisions. For example, each of them are granted the rights and powers to remodel their studio or make any changes within their periphery. Any trespassing of a private property may and will lead to serious legal issues.
- Grants rights and powers to individuals/ groups of people.
The contract law best explains this function because as a person gets into an agreement, it is already implied that there are certain conditions that each party has to fulfil on their end. For example, the contract in this article is the link-up between the two radio networks. In exchange of the merger of their companies and working as one whole unit, each radio network shall gain their share of benefits. Both owners will have to meet their legal responsibilities, work in the utmost interest of the firm and in return both should gain their part. In case of breach of contract, that is, one owner not complying to the rules of the deal, there shall be a lawsuit.
- Imposes obligations on individuals or organisations to meet their legal responsibility.
As the ACCC sanctions the proposal of the merger, the rights of each party are legally enforced. To further explain, this means that both parties have now legal rights to the daily transactions of the unit as a whole. More importantly, Fairfax-Macquarie Radio Network will have the legal right to operate in the foreseeable future. Therefore, this law permits the society to distinguish between legal bodies and illegal ones.
- Allows for the enforcement of recognised rights and duties.
In businesses, directors have certain duties to fulfil. In case these duties are breached, these directors may be sued according to the corporation law. There are certain legal rights created by the corporation law that may provide remedies in case of breach of responsibilities. In this article for example, though the ACCC has given the go ahead, the link-up is still hinged on the consent of the shareholders. This shows that the rights of the shareholders are respected. In case this was not the case, the shareholders themselves would have been able to take civil actions against the directors for failing to shoulder up their responsibilities. 3) By reference to the legal issues contained in the media report, explain why it was important for the relevant party/parties to know the law in the circumstances? How did, or could, the party/parties have applied the law to their advantage? In order to be able to gain maximum profit in the future, be it for an individual or for a firm, proper knowledge of the laws is very important. This is because ignorance of the law is no excuse of breaking it. Knowing the law makes one’s rights and duties more transparent resulting into a stronger position. For example, in this article the transactions of the radio networks such as their profit are clearly revealed as well as the details about the link up. This is a good example depicting the consumer protection law and the duties of the directors which they correctly fulfilled. Consumers also may use this law in their advantage, by use of the information provided and make the best decision for their own benefit. In case of ignorance of this law companies would be able to fool people without their knowing of it. Another example of a good knowledge of the law is that of the paperwork of the link-up. Knowing the law correctly, the directors stayed in their boundary and waited dutifully for the administration department’s verdict. Having done everything within the periphery of the law and having earned licences, this business will now flourish better. Had they not known the law, they might have faced negative consequences in the future or might have unknowingly trespass the law which would result in their loss. Hence they knew how to use the law in their favour. 4) How do the media influence public perceptions about the law and its administration? How might public pressure impact legislators and judges in establishing the law? It is undeniable that media plays a crucial role in the lives of people. While media has been the medium to know about facts in many cases, there are many such cases as well where people misjudged matters on the basis of the information presented. Normally, it can be noted that the press will cover a story only at the beginning stages of the enquiry, that is, prior to anyone being found guilty. The details of the accused go viral almost instantly and biased reports are made. These types of sensationalized and one-sided reports can signify that the suspect is portrayed very negatively and already accused for the crime he is not yet proven guilty for. People’s perceptions may definitely get influenced and often compromises their ability to make proper judgments. A survey carried out in Canada revealed that people who passed out judgments based on the media articles supported more severe sentences than those who read the summary of the real facts from the court’s sentencing hearing (Roberts and Doob 1990, 468). Another example of such media influences may be The Trayvon Martin case where the media made several mistakes concerning the accused Zimmerman (The Week April 3, 2012). As far as the impact of public pressure in the establishment of law is concerned, this issue is subject to debate. Under normal circumstances, law making people are those who belong to the parliament and at times the judges. However, under extreme cases, the public often proved to have raised their voice against matters they found baffling. Such an example could be the famous UK school massacre in Dunblane. The inhabitants, who were so appalled of such a horrible incident, could not understand how a man like Hamilton could have the licences to guns. They therefore set up a very successful campaign which led into a petition with approximately 75000 signatures. After such a strong campaign the Scottish government was forced to reconsider the gun laws in order to better protect the country (Wilkinson 2013). Reference list: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 2015. Welcome to the ACCC. https://www.accc.gov.au/ Roberts, Julian V and Anthony N. Doob. 1990. “News Media Influences on Public Views of Sentencing.” Law and Human Behaviour 14(5): 451-468. Doi: 10.1007/BF01044222. The Week (April 3, 2012) http://news.yahoo.com/trayvon-martin-case-4-things-media-got-wrong-130500344.html Wilkinson, Peter. 2013. “Dunblane: How UK school massacre led to tighter gun control.” CNN, January 30. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/17/world/europe/dunblane-lessons/ 1 Ghanishta Gungaram 18030273
- Provides remedies when an injustice has been done.