[EDITORIALS]The Prime Minister's MisconceptionPrime Minister Lee Han-dong's view of the press and his perception of reality, revealed through answers to the written questions by Representative Park Chong-ung of the Grand National Party, expose serious problems. His answers provide many hints on the background, government's intentions, and direction of future development of government pressure on the media, which lately has been exerted in constant waves. In response to the question why the government presses ahead with newspaper regulations, Mr. Lee asserts that it is to enhance objectivity and transparency in implementing the Fair Trade Act. But what the government calls unfair business actions by newspapers may be sufficiently controlled by the existing Fair Trade Act. The Regulatory Reform Committee has said that the introduction of new regulations is unnecessary, rejecting the government proposal twice. In such a situation, for the prime minister to mention "objectivity and transparency" is farfetched.
Mr. Lee also insists that newspaper companies exact high fees from advertisers by abusing their market-dominant status. This is a far cry from reality. In today's society, where profits are of utmost importance, what company could be coerced to pay tens or hundreds of millions of won for an ineffective ads? Doesn't he know that prices are formed by the marketplace? Also his argument is groundless when he says that joint newspaper sales would not cut the number of papers sold. His remarks, that if a newspaper delivery post handles two or three newspapers jointly, it would enhance efficiency, is an indication that the government has a strong will to see a joint sales system for newspapers. Mr. Lee also replies that the government has never requested or received personal information on journalists and that their bank accounts have not been traced. Yet, the newspaper companies say they have submitted to the tax authorities personal data on the journalists over the deputy desk chief level or even general reporters. Which means either the prime minister has been falsely briefed or he is lying. His remarks hint that he sympathizes with the provision of various mechanisms pressuring the media. Mr. Lee is urged to take this opportunity to clearly reveal his view of the media.