중앙데일리

Controversial media bills advance

TV unions prepare general strike over measures easing rules on ownership

Feb 26,2009
After Ko Heung-kil, chairman of the broadcasting committee of the National Assembly, introduces the media reform bills, Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Jong-kul grabs Ko’s shirtfront in protest. [YONHAP]

Ko Heung-kil, a Grand National Party lawmaker and the chairman of the National Assembly’s Culture and Broadcasting Committee, introduced controversial media bills at a committee session yesterday, despite pleas from opposition party lawmakers not to do so.

The move drew fury from Democratic Party lawmakers who later threatened they may boycott other negotiation sessions in all other committees. Seconds after Ko made his declaration, DP legislators jumped out of their seats and besieged the GNP lawmaker, hollering at him as he struggled to leave the conference room.

Ko’s action takes the disputed bill one step closer to a final vote at the Assembly’s main session. The GNP has strongly supported the bill, which it said would strengthen the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications industries, while the DP has argued it would allow local conglomerates to influence TV news.

Meanwhile, the Assembly’s committee on foreign affairs and trade held a legislative subcommittee meeting and endorsed the ratification bill for the U.S.?Korea free trade agreement. No Democrats participated in the meeting, and GNP and Pro-Park United lawmakers on the committee passed the measure.

Ko held a session yesterday to decide whether or not to start the official review of the media bills. As the meeting was about to end with little progress around 3:50 p.m., Ko suddenly raised a gavel and declared, “As the chairman [of the committee], I think I have no choice but to send all of the media-related bills, including the disputed broadcasting bills, for official review, according to article 77 of the National Assembly law.”

Once the official review begins at the committee, its 28 members can vote on sending it to the main floor. GNP lawmakers dominate the culture and broadcasting committee with 16 members. The DP has eight.

As chairman, Ko is authorized to take such action but had refrained from doing so to prevent a repeat of the violent melees that swept the Assembly late last year. In closing last month’s extraordinary session, lawmakers agreed to consider the bills by February’s end. But that prospect remained unclear after the parties failed to narrow their differences.

“It has been nearly six months since various media-related bills were sent to the committee, but we have not been able to even introduce them for official review, and such deadlock seriously hampers lawmakers’ legislative rights,” Ko said in a statement released later.

Last night, DP members held an emergency meeting to prepare possible responses and to decide whether to boycott other committees.

In protest of Ko’s action, the National Union of Media Workers said yesterday that it will start a general strike at 6 a.m. today. The union also held a rally in Yeouido, where the National Assembly is located. The unionized workers at MBC also announced that they will go on a general strike starting at the same time.



By Kim Jeong-ha JoongAng Ilbo/ Jung Ha-won Staff Reporter [hawon@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장