[EDITORIALS]Shame on the Fair Trade Commission

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[EDITORIALS]Shame on the Fair Trade Commission

The actions of the Fair Trade Commission grow more incomprehensible. As if pressing ahead with newspaper regulations despite opposition from all walks of life were not enough, it has now done something beyond common sense. The FTC denied entry to a journalist who covers the commission. From Saturday to Monday, some FTC bureaus and divisions, including the investigation bureau chief's office, had the sign "Donga Ilbo Reporter Banned From Entry" on their doors. The notion of barring journalists who wrote unfavorable articles did not exist even during the authoritarian days of the past.

The FTC claims that the decision was made as a declaratory gesture because the particular journalist's reports were problematic. If that was the case, a number of official channels were available to the commission. It could have demanded a correction or filed a complaint with the Press Arbitration Commission. If the outcome were still unsatisfactory, the FTC could take the case to the court. Without such an effort, unilaterally banning a journalist's entry is a clear infringement of freedom in gathering news and an act of violence on the press. The association for print and broadcasting editors has strongly protested what it called a "grave action of infringement on citizens' right to know and freedom of the press."

The root cause of this incident rests with the FTC, which is intent on pressing ahead with newspaper regulations rejected twice by the Regulatory Reform Committee. Yet, attempting to prevent criticism amounts to admitting the problems with the regulations. If there is no cause for shame, there is no reason for the commission to fear reportage or criticism. The FTC action also allows a glimpse into the government's perception of the press, the reason it pushes for the regulations and how they will be abused. Regulations promoted by an organ that commits such an undemocratic action should be viewed as an intention to block free journalistic activities.

The FTC chairman tried to extricate himself by claiming that he was unaware of the ban. If the chairman was in the dark about the decision of an executives' meeting, the FTC briefing system is faulty - or he is lying. We demand that the responsible officials be found and punished.
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