Lesley Hitchens joined UTS in January 2008, serving as Associate Dean (Research) from June 2008 until early 2013. She commenced as Dean of the Faculty in February 2013. In 2015 was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. Lesley is also a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2018 she received the Financial Times Australian Legal Innovator Award.
Prior to commencing her academic career, Lesley practised as a commercial lawyer for seven years, first in Sydney with Allens and later with Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills) in London. She spent 14 years in the United Kingdom commencing her academic career there with the University of Leicester. Prior to returning to Australia, she spent four years at the University of Warwick. Upon returning to Australia, Lesley took up an academic position with the University of Melbourne and later the University of New South Wales. She has also held visiting positions at universities in the UK including University of Manchester and Birkbeck College.
Her main research area is communications regulation and she has focused on broadcasting and electronic media regulation. A particular focus of her work has been ownership and control and diversity regulation and in 2006 she published Broadcasting Pluralism and Diversity a comparative study of policy and regulation covering the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. She has recently completed the second edition of a co-authored book examining English media laws, Media Law: Text, Cases and Materials. In 2014 she published Media Law in Australia, an overview of Australian laws affecting the media. More recently her research has focused on content regulation, especially ethical standards and the place of commercial content, and regulatory responses to the media broadband environment. Lesley has held a number of research grants, and has been involved in projects advising on media reform in Russia and contributing to the development of media law studies in Hungary. In 2008 and 2009, she was part of an international research project on media pluralism funded by the European Union. In 2008-2009 she also carried out research for the Australian Communications and Media Authority on regulation of advertising in relation to news and current affairs programming.
Throughout her academic career Lesley has taught corporate law, commercial law, and courses in media and communications law at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
- NSW Legal Profession Admission Board, member
- Legal Services Council Admissions Committee, member
- Australian Pro Bono Centre, board member
Can supervise: YES
- Media and communications regulation including comparative research with a special focus on the UK, the US, and the EU.
- Media Law
- Communications Regulation
- Corporate Law
Barendt, E., Bosland, J., Craufurd Smith, R. & Hitchens, L.P. 2014, Media Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, England.
An insightful discussion of the fundamental principles of media law, along with critical commentary on the leading cases, statutory provisions and other materials vital to the study of this dynamic field governing virtually every form of mass communication from newspapers and radio broadcasting to television programming and video streaming online. Our expert author team delves into the important legal issues behind topics such as the regulation of the press, libel and privacy law, standards in advertising, ownership of media assets, and the application of competition law to the media, providing you with a thorough understanding of the practical implications of the law.
Hitchens, L.P. 2014, Media Law in Australia, Wolters Kluwer, The Netherlands.
Derived from the renowned multi-volume International Encyclopaedia of Laws, this analysis of media law in Australia surveys the massively altered and enlarged legal landscape traditionally encompassed in laws pertaining to freedom of expression and regulation of communications. Everywhere, a shift from mass media to mass self-communication has put enormous pressure on traditional law models.
An introduction describing the main actors and salient aspects of media markets is followed by in-depth analyses of print media, radio and television broadcasting, the Internet, commercial communications, political advertising, concentration in media markets, and media regulation. Among the topics that arise for discussion are privacy, cultural policy, protection of minors, competition policy, access to digital gateways, protection of journalists' sources, standardization and interoperability, and liability of intermediaries. Relevant case law is considered throughout, as are various ethical codes.
A clear, comprehensive overview of media legislation, case law, and doctrine, presented from the practitioner's point of view, this book is a valuable time-saving resource for all concerned with media and communication freedom. Lawyers representing parties with interests in Australia will welcome this very useful guide, and academics and researchers will appreciate its value in the study of comparative media law.
Broadcasting Pluralism and Diversity is a study of the policy and regulatory measures relating to the promotion of media diversity in three jurisdictions: the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. A central focus of the book is regulation of media ownership and control, and, taking an historical approach, the book argues that early policy and regulatory decisions continue to have a significant influence on current reforms. Whilst policy and reform debates focus on ownership and control measures, the book also argues that such measures can not be considered in isolation from other regulatory instruments, and that a holistic regulatory approach is required. As such, content regulation and competition regulation are also considered. Underlying the study is the contention that much of the policy informing pluralism and diversity regulation, although making reference to the importance of the media's role in the democratic process, has also been skewed by a futile focus on the different regulatory treatment of the press and broadcasting, which is adversely influencing current policy debates. The book argues that a different approach, using the public sphere concept, needs to be adopted and used as a measure against which regulatory reform in the changing media environment can be assessed.
Professor Hitchens, writing from Australia, sees a dramatically different regulatory framework in a post-convergence Broadband Age. Future media policy and regulation, she says, will have to address the entire media ecosystem, viewed as a regulatory space in which self-regulation and the market are all part of the basket of regulatory tools. Its goal should be to maintain and strengthen the public sphere. Traditional rules limiting media ownership or setting content requirements are unlikely to be viable, and will be replaced by increased reliance on sectoral ex ante competition regulation, perhaps complemented by a code of behavior promoting self-regulation regarding content. Hitchens concludes that traditional media regulations rooted in spectrum scarcity are not sustainable in the long term.
Hitchens, L.P. 2010, 'Broadband in Australia: First Steps in Policy and Regulation', Journal of Media Law, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 213-226.
Hitchens, L.P. 2009, 'Media Concentration and Democracy: Why Ownership Matters, by C Edwin Baker', Media & Arts Law Review, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 379-382.
Hitchens, L.P. 2009, 'Product Placement - US and UK Regulatory Reviews of an Expanding Market', Communications Law Bulletin, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 1-4.
Hitchens, L 2007, 'Australian Media Reform - Discerning the Policy', UNSW Law Journal Forum, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 26-32.
Hitchens, LP 2006, 'Law & Internet Cultures, by Kathy Bowrey', Legal Studies, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 437-440.
Programme sponsorship is V!ell known as a form of revenue-raising for broadcasters. Whilstseen as a form of advertising, it is aiso generally regarded as distinct from advertising. This distinction was described in the Report of the Peacock Committee which investigated financing of the BBC: "Sponsorship is a form of advertising limited to a'statement in a particular programme that it is being financed by a particular organisation. The form of that statement would normally exclude an-intrusive "commercial" of a "spot" character". Advertising is usually viewed as something "... which is designed or calculated to draw public attention to a product or to promote its use ... ".2 Thus, sponsorship through the identification of the sponsor and, possibly, products or services, has the potential, even if limited, for promotion, but at the same time, it will usually lack the vivid impact associated with spot advertising.
During 1999 and 2000 considerable attention was focused on an inquiry conducted by the broadcasting regulator, the Australian Broadcasting Authority ('ABA'), into the commercial arrangements of a number of commercial radio presenters associated with talkback radio. In May 1999, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation ('ABC') program, Media Watch, alleged that, John Laws, a presenter with Sydney Radio Station 2UE, had financial arrangements in place with an organisation representing the major Australian banks, the Australian Bankers' Association. It was alleged that the effect of these arrangements was that Laws would broadcast positive comments about the banks. These comments were independent of any paid advertising run by the station for the banks or the Bankers' Association. Following the Media Watch revelations, the ABA announced that it would conduct an inquiry1 into the allegations in order to determine whether there had been any breach of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) ('BSA') or the licence conditions or codes of practice to which Radio 2UE was subject. Following further allegations, the ABA, between July 1999 and November 1999, extended its inquiry to cover another 2UE presenter, Alan Jones,2 and presenters from four other radio stations: 6PR Perth, 5AD (also known as 5ADD) Adelaide, 5DN Adelaide and 3AW Melbourne
Hitchens, L.P. 2003, 'Media Ownership - The Economics and Politics of Convergence and Concentration in the U.K. and European Media, by Gillian Doyle', Journal of Cultural Economics, vol. 27, no. 3-4, pp. 290-293.
Hitchens, L.P. 2002, 'Regulation of Election and Political Broadcasting', Communications Law Bulletin, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1-5.
Hitchens, L.P. 2001, 'Digital Television Broadcasting - An Australian Approach', Entertainment Law Review, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 112-119.
Hitchens, L.P. 2000, 'Directorships - How Many is Too Many?', Company Financial and Insolvency Law Review, vol. 3, pp. 359-369.
Hitchens, LP 1997, 'Approaches to Broadcasting Regulation: Australia and the United Kingdom Compared', Legal Studies, vol. 17, pp. 40-63.
Hitchens, LP 1996, 'Digital Broadcasting: The Governments's Proposals - The Doubtful Revolution', Modern Law Review, vol. 59, pp. 427-442.
Hitchens, L.P. 1995, 'Fit to Broadcast? Fit to Decide?', Journal of Media Law and Practice, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 115-122.
Hitchens, L.P. 1995, ''Get Ready, Fire, Take Aim': The Regulation of Cross Media Ownership - An exercise in policy-making', Public Law, vol. Winter, pp. 620-641.
Hitchens, LP 1994, 'Forgery and Cheque Cards', Modern Law Review, vol. 57, pp. 811-817.
Hitchens, LP 1994, 'Media Ownership and Control: A European Approach', Modern Law Review, vol. 57, pp. 585-601.
Hitchens, L.P. 1993, 'Holders for Value and their Status', Journal of Business Law, vol. 1993, pp. 571-576.
Hitchens, L.P. 1991, 'Impartiality and the Broadcasting Act: Riding the Wrong Horse', Journal of Media Law and Practice, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 48-54.
Hitchens, L.P. 1990, 'Cross-Media Regulation and the Broadcasting Bill: A Mismatch of Policy and Rules', Utilities Law Review, vol. 1, pp. 121-126.
Hitchens, L.P. 1982, 'Public Interest and the Decision Makers', Media Information Australia, vol. 25, pp. 26-31.
Hitchens, L.P. 1982, 'The Regulation of Takeovers: The American and Australian Experience', The University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 5, pp. 153-168.
Fam, DM, Leimbach, T, Kelly, S, Hitchens, L & Callen, M 2018, 'Meta-considerations for Planning, Introducing and Standardising Interdisciplinary Learning in Higher Degree Institutions' in Fam, DM, Neuhauser, N & Gibbs, P (eds), The art of collaborative research and collective learning: Transdisciplinary theory, practice and education.
Hitchens, Lesley 2016, 'Reviewing Media Pluralism in Australia' in Valcke, Peggy, Sukosd, Miklos & Picard, Robert (eds), Media Pluralism and Diversity, Palgrave Macmillan, England, pp. 252-266.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Adopting a truly global, theoretical and multidisciplinary perspective, Media Pluralism and Diversity intends to advance our understanding of media pluralism across the globe. It compares metrics that have been developed in different parts of the world to assess levels of, or threats to, media pluralism.
This entry provides an overview of the media diversity concept and examples of some of the policy and regulatory tools adopted to promote media diversity. It considers whether the advent of the digital environment heralds the end of the need for such policies.
Hitchens, LP 2013, 'Commercial Content and its Relationship to Media Content: Commodification and Trust' in Price, ME, Verhulst, SG & Morgan, L (eds), Routledge Handbook of Media Law, Routledge, New York, pp. 87-104.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Hitchens, L.P. 2008, 'Media Concentration' in Cane, P. & Conaghan, J. (eds), The New Oxford Companion to Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 768-768.
For any reader needing a concise yet expert explanation of a subject in law The New Oxford Companion to Law is the ideal reference work. Providing greater depth than can be found in legal dictionaries but always accessible to the non-specialist, entries in the Companion cover all areas of law and legal systems and are extensively cross-referenced for ease of navigation. The Companion draws upon the expertise of over 700 scholars and practitioners, offering the widest possible range of perspectives on legal topics.
Hitchens, L.P. 2007, 'Citizen versus Consumer in the Digital World' in Kenyon, A.T. (ed), TV Futures: Digital Television Policy in Australia, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 343-363.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Fam, DM, Leimbach, T, Kelly, S, Hitchens, L & Callen, M 2017, 'Collaborative research and collective learning: institutionalizing interdisciplinary programs in higher education', International Transdisciplinary Conference, Transdisciplinary Research and Education — Intercultural Endeavours, Leuneburg, Germany.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Hitchens, L.P. 2011, ''Cash, bathhouses, and talkback': The inadequacy of Australian media regulation and why it matters', Media, Democracy and the Rule of Law: Global & Local, New Democracies & Old, University of New South Wales.
Hitchens, L.P. 2011, 'Media Regulatory Frameworks in the New Broadband Era: Securing Diversity', Digital Diversity Experts Workshop: Serving the Public Interest in the Age of Broadband, Fordham University, New York.
Hitchens, L.P. 2010, 'Perspectives on Self-Regulation from Different Communications Sectors', Comparative Perspectives on Media Regulation and Society, Delhi, India.
Hitchens, L.P. 2007, 'Rethinking Content in a Converged Media Environment', Society of Legal Scholars Conference, Durham, UK.
Hitchens, L.P. 2006, 'Citizen versus Consumer in the Digital World', University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria.
Submission to Department of Communications and the Arts
Submission to Department of Communications and the Arts