[EDITORIALS]Withdraw the Regulations

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[EDITORIALS]Withdraw the Regulations

All of the five members of a panel charged with overseeing fair competition by newspaper companies resigned from their posts Tuesday and made clear their opposition to reviving government regulation of the print media. The Korea Newspapers Association's committee on fair competition was made up of representatives from consumer rights' groups, academia and the press industry. The panel is certainly no mouthpiece for the "Big Three" newspapers, which the government and some others in our society claim has led the fight against the regulations. Why did the members choose to resort to the extreme action of a mass resignation? Because behind the move to revive the regulation of newspaper companies is an attempt by the authorities to put a hold on the media, to quiet the critical voices, and because government assurances that the regulations will be subordinate to the industry's voluntary audit and inspection are nothing but empty words.

The committee chairman, Cho Yong-jung, said the association's own code of conduct was working. Other panel members said the terms of the code are strict enough to make newspaper companies and local distribution agents nervous about banned practices, but none of that has been recognized. This testimony runs against the government's logic that rules are necessary because the industry's self-regulation is not functioning properly. With no panel, the prospect of self-regulation has become even more questionable.

So we put this to the administration and to the National Assembly: Withdraw the plan to revive the regulations. It is not too late to do so now, when the regulation has yet to be approved at a plenary session of the Fair Trade Commission. And if the regulations do go into effect in July, the concerns of the Regulatory Reform Committee must be heeded and self-regulation by the industry must be assured. The industry code, in fact, contains restrictions far stricter than the government's proposed regulation. The government must not forget that the presidential panel approved the draft rules on the condition that "self-regulation first" is assured. If the government continues to threathen fair and critical reporting by the media, history and the people will be the judge of its actions.
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