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New Broadcasting Law Leaves Room for Suspicion

Mar 07,2000
The enforcement ordnance of the new comprehensive Broadcasting Law, ratified by cabinet members on March 7th, is a disappointment. It impairs rather than facilitates the independence and the subjectivity of the Broadcasting Committee, says the main body for reform in the media sector. Accordingly, it came under fire from the labor union of the committee, as well as journalist and civic groups.
The law only represents the proposal made by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, while dropping many of the suggestions the committee brought up. It is rather surprising given that the committee's proposition was comprised of opinions from various relevant bodies who even agreed in the public hearings.
Only some three or four items from the committe's suggestions were included in the new law. They suggested that the share limit (33%) of broadcasting companies in satelite broadcasting companies should be applied to Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) and Munwha Broadcasting Company (MBC) as well. KBS should give 3 percent of its subscription fees to the Education Broadcasting System (EBS), and programs with viewer participation should make up 100 minutes of total programming time a month.
The most crucial element in the law is that it requires consultation between the committee and the ministry for certain issue. For the establishment of a broadcasting system, opening up of the broadcasting market, including international cooperation and issues which are vital to national interests should be discussed according to the law. However, the definitions of these items are so general and vague it is likely to arouse suspicion that the government wants to control the media.
The government should consider what are the prerequisites for the reform and development of the media. One will be the dependency and the subjectivity of the Broadcasting Committee.




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