Search Chronomedia Quotations Media department
Laws section Reference department Chronomedia Quotations department Media department

Reference > Media law & regulation > UK media laws > Telecoms, cable, satellite

UK media laws: Telecommunications, cable and satellite

  Page still under construction; subject to revision

See also Quotas and levies.
  Editorial comments, not part of the statute.

 Return to alphabetical list.


26& 27 Vict. c.112
An Act to regulate the Exercise of Powers under Special Acts for the Construction and Maintenance of Telegraphs.

  The Act described the rights of telegraph companies to install lines and the regulations that applied in all normal circumstances: along public roads, across private land, alongside railway tracks and canals, and on the seashore, including the rights of occupiers and landowners.
  The Act was, of course, originally passed when telegraphy was in private hands; in most cases the powers and obligations were subsequently conferred on the Post Office at the time of nationalisation and, since 1981, British Telecom and cable operators.

Click for details

 Return to alphabetical list.


31&32 Vict. c.110
An Act to enable Her Majesty's Postmaster General to acquire, work and maintain Electric Telegraphs.

6. Acts &c. of companies selling their undertakings to remain in force, and the powers thereof to be exercised by the Postmaster General.
9. Postmaster General to enter into contracts with certain Railway Companies.
11. Postmaster General may acquire a right of way over the Bridgewater Canal.
20. Punishment for disclosing or intercepting messages.
Up to 12 months imprisonment.

This Act opened the way for the state to take over telegraph companies and/or operations.

 Return to alphabetical list.


33& 34 Vict. c.88
An Act to extend the Telegraph Acts of 1868, 1869, to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

 Return to alphabetical list.


41&42 Vict. c.76
An Act to make further provision respecting the Post Office Telegraphs.

3. Amendment of 26&27 Vict. c.112 [Telegraph Act 1863] as to consents.
4. Differences generally to be determined by a county court or the sheriff, subject to appeal to the High Court or Court of Session.
5. General provisions as to arbitration.
6. Power of the Postmaster General to establish telegraphic lines on certain undertakings authorised by special Act of Parliament.
7. Provision as to work done in pursuance of special Acts of Parliament which involves alteration in telegraphic line.
8. Compensation and fine for injury to telegraphic line of the Postmaster General and for interruption to telegraphic communication.
Damage to the line can result in fine of up to £20 a day for the duration of the interruption or a maximum of £50 without regard to duration of the interruption.
9. Penalty for obstruction. On conviction, fine of up to £25 a day (£10 in Scotland).
10. Prosecution of offences.
12. Printing, authentication, and service of notices and other documents.
13. Saving existing rights.
14. Saving rights of trustees of Bridgewater Canal.

Sch. Local Acts referred to.

 Return to alphabetical list.


48& 49 Vict. c.49
An Act to carry into effect an International Convention for the Protection of Submarine Telegraph Cables.

Enacts convention of 14 March 1884.

 Return to alphabetical list.


52& 53 Vict. c.34
An Act to amend the Telegraph Acts 1863 to 1885, and the Post Office Acts in relation to the Isle of Man.

 Return to alphabetical list.


55 & 56 Vict. c.59
An Act to make further provision respecting Telegraphs.

3. Extension of certain provisions of Telegraph Acts.
4. Telegraph lines constructed irregularly or by persons other than the Postmaster-General.
        If the construction is not in accordance with Telegraph Acts 1863 to 1878, its removal can be required, but until then it shall be deemed to have been lawfully constructed—and thus subject to legal provisions in all other respects.
5. Application of Acts to a licensee of the Postmaster-General.
6. Agreement with electric lighting company.
7. Saving for railways and canals.
8. Extension of 26 & 27 Vict. c.112 [Telegraph Act 1863] and 41 & 42 Vict. c.76 [Telegraph Act 1878].
10. Application of Act to Scotland.
11. Application of Act to Ireland.
12. Application of Act to Isle of Man.

 Return to alphabetical list.


62& 63 Vict. c.38
An Act to make further provision for the Improvement of Telephonic Communication, and otherwise with respect to Telegraphs.

Local authorities licensed by Post Office to provide system of public telephonic communication may borrow money for that purpose.

Local authorities were hereby able to raise loans to pay for installing telephone systems. A number of local authorities did so.

Repealed in Northern Ireland by SR&O (NI) 1973/285.
Whole Act repealed by Communications Act 2003

 Return to alphabetical list.


8 Edw.7 c.33
An Act to amend the Telegraph Acts 1863 to 1907, with respect to the Construction and Maintenance of Telegraphic Lines for telephonic and other telegraphic purposes.

2. Telegraph Act 1863 extends to public roads as well as to streets by virtue of SI 1974/595.
3. Public recreation grounds.
        Consent is required to fly wires over public recreation grounds 'or any hedge or bank adjoining such land'.
5. Lopping of trees which obstruct a telegraphic line on a street or road.
        [Post Office] can require lopping on serving of a notice but a counter-notice can be entered within a month in objection; otherwise the Post Office can carry out the work itself.
8. Saving for canals.
        This Act does not apply to any canal authorised by Act of Parliament.

 Return to alphabetical list.


9 Edw.7 c.20
An Act to give further powers to the Railway and Canal Commission to determine differences with respect to Telegraphs (including Telephones).

'Differences' shall be referred to the High Court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or to the Court of Sessions in Scotland.

Railway and Canal Commission was abolished in 1949, following nationalisation of the railways in 1947 and of canals in 1948. Powers were transferred as indicated.

 Return to alphabetical list.


1& 2 Geo.5 c.26
An Act to make provision in relation to the transfer to the Postmaster General of the plant, property and assets, and of the staff of the National Telephone Company, Limited, and for the further improvement of Telephonic Communication.

Sections remaining in force relate to superannuation of transferred officers (the youngest of whom probably retired 30-40 years ago).

 Return to alphabetical list.


1& 2 Geo.5 c.39
An Act to facilitate the construction and maintenance of Telegraphic Lines.

1. Power to Postmaster General to place telegraphic lines across railways and canals.
       But not for distances over quarter of a mile.
  Railways had their own telegraphic systems alongside tracks.

4. For protection of the Earl of Ellesmere and the Manchester Ship Canal Company.

 Return to alphabetical list.


6& 7 Geo.5 c.40
An Act to amend the Telegraph Acts 1863 to 1915, with respect to the construction and maintenance of telegraphic lines.

1. Use of land and buildings for telegraphic lines.
        Owner must consent within two months, otherwise a 'difference' is deemed to occur and must be resolved before work can begin.

 Return to alphabetical list.


12& 13 Geo.6 c.54
An Act to amend the law relating to wireless telegraphy.

Not principally concerned with cable telegraphy but rather with requirements for the licensing of the transmission and reception of wireless telegraphy (ie, broadcasting and other uses of radio), such licensing to be the prerogative of the Postmaster General. The powers were later transferred to the Home Secretary.
However, the Act also requires the licensing of 'relay services', carried out under s.89 of The Post Office Act 1969 c.48.

 Return to alphabetical list.

Public Utilities Street Works Act 1950

[to be inserted]

Post Office Act 1969

[to be inserted]


An Act to establish a public corporation to be called British Telecommunications; to make provision with respect to its functions and to transfer to it certain property, rights and liabilities of the Post Office; to make further provision with respect to the Post Office; to provide for dealings by the Treasury in the shares of Cable & Wireless Limited; to amend the Telegraph Acts; and for connected purposes.


11. Statutory rights and liabilities as to telegraphs.
12. Exclusive privilege of the Corporation with respect to telecommunication.
13. General classes of acts not infringing the telecommunication privilege.
14. Acts relating to broadcasting not infringing the telecommunication privilege.
15. Saving for things done under a licence.
16. Approval of apparatus which is to be connected to a telecommunication system run by the Corporation

46. Prohibition of affixing placards, notices, etc on the Corporation's property.
47. Assaults etc on employees of the Corporation.
48. Fraudulent use of public telecommunication system.
49. Improper use of public telecommunication system.
50. Obligation to secrecy.

55. Power of local authorities to contribute towards new offices or facilities.

80. Amendment of the Telegraph Acts.

Return to alphabetical list.


1997 c.4
Amends the Telecommunications Act 1984, making it illegal to possess or supply anything for fraudulent purposes in connection by means of the telecommunications system. [27 April 1997]
The whole Act can be read on the OPSI website (click to access).

 Return to alphabetical list.



2003 c.21
An Act to confer functions on the Office of Communications; to make provision about the regulation of the provision of electronic communications networks and services and of the use of the electro-magnetic spectrum; to make provision about the regulation of broadcasting and of the provision of television and radio services; to make provision about mergers involving newspaper and other media enterprises and, in that connection, to amend the Enterprise Act 2002; and for connected purposes.

This Act received the Royal Assent on 17 July 2003.
The whole Act can be read on the OPSI website (click to access).

Click for details

 Return to alphabetical list.

Page updated 25 September 2005
© David Fisher