Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

CMST 3I03 Commun.Policy/Law

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Sara Bannerman


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 302

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23722

Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2-3PM

Course Objectives:

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the role and policy objectives of key national and international communication policy institutions
  • Outline and discuss a range of communication policy issues
  • Discuss current events related to a range of communication policy issues
  • Apply a range of theories about the role of government bureaucracy to discuss communication policy moves
  • Outline a range of theories about the policymaking process and discuss them as they apply to specific government policy decisions

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The following text is required and is available at the campus bookstore.  It is also available as an ebook through McMaster’s library (URL: Click on “access this resource”. Additional readings are available on Avenue to Learn.  There is no coursepack. 

Packard, Ashley. Digital Media Law.  2nd ed. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Method of Assessment:




News Reporting or Weekly Online Quiz                                       


due weekly

Short Assignments                                                                         


due October 1 and November 3 by 11:59PM



due December 1 by 11:59PM; no late penalty if handed in by December 8 (last day of class)

Final exam                                                                                       


during exam period


A student who notifies the instructor in advance that he or she will be required to miss a class or a part of a class for an acceptable reason, or, in the case of an unforeseeable emergency, who notifies the instructor after the fact of the reasons for missing class, may make alternate arrangements to hand in assignments.  Under such circumstances, the attendance mark will be based on the remaining classes.

News Reporting or Weekly Online Quiz

Students may choose one of two options:

Option A: Weekly Online Quizzes: This is the default option. Weekly quizzes for all dates for weeks 2-12 of the course are due to be submitted in Avenue to Learn by the start of each class.  Each of 10 quizzes is worth 2 percent out of 20 percent in the course.  It is possible to achieve bonus marks by answering more than 10 quizzes.  Quizzes will be marked on the degree to which responses engage with the readings.

Option B: News Reporting: Students must request this option, which will be open to a limited number of students selected, if necessary, through a draw.  Students taking option B will be assigned a role in monitoring communication policy developments in the news.  Students are expected to monitor for stories and information related to communication policy on an ongoing basis, and should be prepared to report recent news events on Avenue to Learn and in class.  Specific guidance on where to look for items and what to watch for will be discussed in class.  Some reports will be made orally to the class on a schedule set in class.  Reports and presentations will be due weekly at the start of class, and will be marked on appropriateness of the topic, accuracy of reporting, and your efforts to present material in an engaging fashion.

Short Assignments

Legal Research Assignment: This short assignment will require students to use the legal research skills and techniques outlined in class.

Analysis Assignment: This short assignment will require students to undertake a theoretical or policy analysis of a topic covered in this course.

Final Exam

The final exam will be based on all material covered in the lectures, required readings, and class discussions.  It will take place during the exam period.


An essay on a topic related to the communication law and policy.  Specific topics will be discussed and assigned in class.  Essays will be marked for spelling and grammar; organization (good paragraph and essay form); and depth of argument. 

Submission Process

All work must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn ( drop box, as per the instructions given in classAssignments due after the last day of class must be submitted via the Avenue to Learn drop box unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor.  Assignments handed in to a different location will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made.  Do not drop off assignments in the CMST office.  Emailed assignments will not be accepted.  Always maintain electronic or other back-up copies of whatever you submit.   

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 5% per day (including weekends and holidays) unless alternate arrangements have been made in advance.  

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.  The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances.  If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.





Sept. 8 & 10

Introduction to the Legal System

Digital Media Law, Chapter 1: “Introduction to the Legal System”, pp. 1-20.


Sept. 15 & 17

Analyzing Communication Policy

Kernaghan, Kenneth and David Siegel. Public Administration in Canada. Fourth edition. Toronto: ITP Nelson, 1999.

  • pp. 29-39: “Bureaucracy and the State”

Kernaghan, Kenneth and Savid Siegel. Public Administration in Canada. Fourth edition. Toronto: ITP Nelson, 1999.

  • pp. 129-145: excerpt from “Making Public Policy”

Fundamentals of Legal Research


Sept 22 & 24

Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press

Digital Media Law, Chapter 2: “Freedom of Expression”, pp. 21-46.


Sept. 29 & Oct. 1

Telecommunications Regulation

Nuechterlein, Jonathan E. and Philip J. Weiser. “The Big Picture.” Chapter 1 in Digital Crossroads: American Telecommunications Policy in the Internet Age. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. Available at


Oct. 6 & 8

Broadcasting Regulation

Digital Media Law, Chapter 3: “Telecommunications Regulation”, pp. 47-74.


Oct. 13 & 15



Oct. 20 & 22


Digital Media Law, Chapter 11: “Sex and Violence”, pp. 303-332.



Oct. 27 & 29

Regulation of New Media

Canada. Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-329.


Nov. 3 & 5

Regulation of the Internet

Digital Media Law, Chapter 4: “Internet Regulation”, pp. 75-102.


Nov. 10 & 12

Libel and Slander

Digital Media Law, Chapter 9: “Defamation”, pp. 227-256.


Nov. 17 & 19

Privacy and Lawful Access

Digital Media Law, Chapter 10: “Invasion of Privacy”, pp. 257-302.


Nov. 24 & 26

Access to Information

Digital Media Law, Chapter 6: “Information Gathering”, pp. 127-160


Dec. 1 & 3

Intellectual Property

Digital Media Law, Chapter 8: “Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Trade Secrets”, pp. 199-226.


Digital Media Law, Chapter 7: “Intellectual Property: Copyright”, pp. 161-198


Dec. 8


Other Course Information:

Online Component

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn ( Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

If you require special accommodation for learning or have any special needs please let me know of them as soon as possible in order that arrangements can be made. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with the Centre for Student Development at