Issues and Developments in Chinese Media Law and Policy

China’s media environment is a strong focus of attention for journalists and academics around the world. It is seen as the predominant sphere in which political and social change may be fostered, and a bellwether for broader issues in the mercurial China of today. Nonetheless, this debate is often held in black-and-white terms, focusing on censorship and control, while ignoring the much more complex and variegated reality, where fragmented actors continuously negotiate new situations and interests, and where government is often pushed in a reactive role. This term, PCMLP organizes a seminar series that will provide a deeper insight in the different factors shaping regulation and policymaking in relation to the Chinese Internet. These seminars will look at media law and policy developments in China from different angles, in order to provide a more comprehensive view of developments.

8 May: Micro Opinions in Macro China: Networks Embedded in Hierarchical Structures
Hui Xue – Ph.D. Candidate, MacQuarie University

15 May: The Legislative Environment of the Internet in China
Xia Yan – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Chongqing University of Post and Telecommunications

22 May: Regulatory Responses to User-Generated Content on the Chinese Internet
Bingchun Meng – Lecturer, School of Media and Communications, London School of Economics

29 May: China Dream, Positive Energy and TV Entertainment: The Tightrope Walking of
Chinese Provincial TV Stations
Zhao Yu – Associate Professor, Media & Foreign Culture College, Zhejiang University

5 June: Developing Media Tort Law in China
Perry Keller – Senior Lecturer, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London

All are welcome, no registration is necessary. Seminars are followed by drinks and nibbles.
For more information, e-mail Dr. Rogier Creemers (convenor):

China’s Media and Cultural Sphere

Much attention has been paid in recent years to the development of media and culture in China.  Often, however, this discussion is limited towards particular topics, including politics, protest and censorship.  At the same time, Chinese culture and media are developing – and often flourishing – in ways that remain less clear to outside observers.  Emerging phenomena such as online literature, mobile content and “self-media” are reshaping economic and social aspects of media and culture, often in unexpected ways.  This seminar benefits from the participation of a number of distinguished scholars from Zhejiang University’s Department of Communication and International Culture, who will give us a better sense of important, bottom-up media and culture evolutions occurring in the China of today.

Wu Fei, Dean, Media and International Culture College, Zhejiang University
Fan Zhizhong, Dean, Visual Arts and New Media Department, Zhejiang University
Wei Lu, Assistant Dean, Media and International Culture College
Jin Lian, Assistant Dean, Media and International Culture College
Li Hongtao, Associate Professor, Media and International Culture College

All are welcome, no registration is required. For more information, please contact Dr. Rogier Creemers, Convener (

An-Ox Media Policy Summer Institute

The 15th annual Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute will be held from Monday 24 June to Friday 5 July 2013 at the University of Oxford.  The institute brings together young scholars and regulators from around the world for two weeks to discuss important recent trends in technology, international politics and development and its influence on media policy.

This year the summer institute will focus on two topics for inquiry and discussion. The first week will concentrate on studying media transitions and development, examining case studies of successful media transitions and analyzing the factors contributing to the development of democratic media systems. We will also examine case studies of transitioning societies, such as Burma, Syria, and Egypt. Part of the first week will also be devoted to new developments in comparative approaches to regulation, looking at Ofcom in the UK and other agencies, including examples from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. During the second week, participants and speakers will take a concentrated look at Internet and social media developments around the globe and the varying effects that these technologies have had on government, society, and global and local media policy. We will also be examining the various ways in which different types of internet actors (governments, domestic and international civil society, and private actors) attempt to influence the internet policy sphere.

The schedule and participants and other details can be found on the Institute’s microsite.

ECLS 2013: New Approaches and New Questions in Chinese Law

On 19 and 20 September 2013, CSLS and PCMLP will host the annual conference of the Europe-China Law Studies Association. This conference will bring together leading academics, professionals and policymakers working in the area of Chinese law. A provisional programme can be found below. Participation is free, but registration is required as spaces are limited. Please register via e-mail:

The full programme is available here.

The Switch to Digital Television: Is it a Revolution? Does it enhance Democracy?

This will be a book launch for Michael Starks new publication on The Digital Television Revolution- Origins to Outcomes.


Professor Robert Picard, Director of Research, Reuters Institute

Michael Starks, Associate of the PCMLP and author of The Digital Television Revolution – Origins to Outcomes

Mark Thompson, Editor, Open Society Foundations

Panel discussion and book launch, followed by a wine reception

Seminar hosted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy

Somalia: Media Law in the Absence of a State

As part of the Socio-Legal Studies Seminar Series, Dr Nicole Stremlau presents on Somalia: Media Law in the Absence of a State.

Somalia is often described as ‘lawless’ or ‘the world’s most failed state’, a characterization that overlooks the way law and governance actually works in the absence of a capable central government. This presentation will explore the role of xeer law, or customary law, in regulating media, including both older media, such as poetry, and newer media, such as mobile phones, in Somalia’s complex legal environment. While Somalia remains one of the most dangerous regions of the world for journalists, dozens of radio stations are broadcasting in South-Central Somalia and there is a competitive newspaper industry in Somaliland. In addition, the telecoms industry is booming with some of the best connections and lowest rates on the continent for the internet and mobile phones. What legal frameworks allow technology and media companies to feel confident to invest in Somalia? Various authorities govern media and resolve conflicts across the Somali territories. To understand media ‘law’ in this region we must look beyond the formal state structures.

Free Speech and the Indian Media: Human Rights Concerns in a Globalizing World

A workshop presented in collaboration with the National Law University, Delhi

After the widely publicised revelations by Edward Snowden, India has been alarmed by the discovery that its move to digital communication has resulted in confidential government information becoming easily accessible to the United States of America. The new digital public sphere which was embraced enthusiastically over the last decade, suddenly looks fragile. It appears that the covert and widespread monitoring may have a chilling effect on speech.

If many now see seemingly-confidential communication on the Internet as vulnerable to intruders, there have also been increasing concerns about more public forms of Internet speech, such as the spread of rumours or images which allegedly incite violence between different communities. The most recent manifestation of this is the Muzaffarnagar violence in India, which has been attributed both to the social media and to inflammatory public speeches. Similar concerns were raised about the role of speech during what was popularly known as the ‘North Eastern Exodus’ in Bangalore. In both situations, the Internet was accused, along with other media, of being responsible for spreading harmful speech.

This panel will engage with these contemporary issues that envelop both the digital and the traditional media. It will look at the effects of surveillance, prior restraints on speech, intermediaries and other key factors on the public sphere. It will also consider, in this context, the relationship of the traditional media with the Internet. This discussion will take place in the backdrop of evolving democratic engagement in India, and the constitutional jurisprudence that attempts to keep pace with it and with developments in communication technology. It will offer comparative perspectives from other countries grappling with similar concerns.

Dangerous Speech and New Methods for Prevention

This seminar examines ongoing research on a subset of hate speech, “dangerous speech,” that has a special capacity to catalyse violence. It describes an innovative framework to identify such speech, which was adapted for use in the yearlong Umati project – in which Kenyan monitors scrubbed their country’s online spaces, for hate speech and dangerous speech. They assembled a remarkable dataset, which informed attempts to diminish the force of dangerous speech. The seminar will also explore how a similar approach can be adapted to other normative climates.

For more information see:

China’s Great Constitutional Debate

Speaker: Thomas Kellogg (Open Society Foundations)

For much of 2013, a vigorous and wide-ranging debate has raged in intellectual circles in China over the need for constitutional reform. The debate has seen the emergence of three camps: the socialist constitutionalists, who favour a gradualist reform path that adheres to the current constitution; the liberals, who are sceptical that meaningful reform can and will take place under existing constitutional arrangements; and the Leftists, who have vigorously attacked reform proposals as no more than thinly-veiled attempts to undermine the one-Party state.

This debate, which reached its apex during the summer months, has now quieted somewhat, with socialist constitutionalists reasserting their position as the voice of the moderate mainstream. Though the outpouring of commentary has not led to any specific reforms, nonetheless it did demonstrate the strong consensus among academics and intellectuals in favour of constitutional change. The debate also highlighted the frustration among many intellectuals over the glacial pace of legal and political reform over the past decade, and served as a vehicle for public outreach and education on the meaning of and prospects for constitutional development in China.

All are welcome, no registration is necessary. For more information, please contact Dr. Rogier Creemers (convener):

Beyond Public Opinion: Collecting and Interpreting Information in Conflict and Post-Conflict Environments

The increasing availability of data produced through old and new media, from the radio to the mobile phone, and of techniques to analyse them, offers unprecedented opportunities to map and understand ongoing conflicts. New projects have been launched to collect voices, map hate speech, denounce abuses in real time, and track ongoing violence.

The availability of new tools, however, is also presenting new challenges. Campaigns such as #Kony2012 may give the impression that conflicts can be studied and sometimes resolved at a distance. And while big data offers the opportunity to map some of the trends that characterize a conflict, they may obfuscate how conflict is perceived and understood by those who live and suffer from it. This workshop addresses some of these ongoing trends and challenges, by bringing together scholars from different disciplines to understand how information in conflict and post-conflict areas can be gathered, interpreted and analysed in complementary ways.

PANEL I, 14.00 – 15.20
Chair: Iginio Gagliardone (Programme in Comparative Media Law & Policy, CSLS, University of Oxford)

Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows
William Housley, Adam Edwards and Matthew Williams (COSMOS, Cardiff University)

Patterns of Justification in Hate Speech and Violence
Jonathan Leader Maynard (New College, University of Oxford)

PANEL II, 15.40 – 17.00
Chair: Richard Caplan (Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford)

The fear factor is a main thing: How information on security shapes authority: The case of the Lord’s Resistance Army
Mareike Schomerus and Anouk S. Rigterink (Justice and Security Research Programme, London School of Economics)

Managing Public Opinion in China: More Speech, More Sophisticated Control
Thomas Kellogg (Northeast Asia Program Director, Open Society Foundations)

17.00 Wine Reception

About Us: The Interpretive Analysis Network (IAN) is a space created by the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford to reflect on innovations and challenges in using qualitative research methods in the social sciences. For more information about IAN, please visit the IAN Weblearn site, join us on Facebook. IAN is convened by Dr Iginio Gagliardone ( and Kate Roll (