[IN THIS CORNER...]Should TV air time be freed?The broadcasting hours of television networks are regulated by law; they can be on the air from 6 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. To broadcast outside of the designated times, they need approval from the Korea Broadcasting Commission. Since broadcasters have long been asking for more air time, the restrictions should be loosened. The regulations were introduced in the 1960s, when television broadcasting was in its infancy here.
Other media are not happy with the proposed expansion, which they say will hurt the balanced development of mass media. That problem can be addressed by other regulations. Reruns of programs should not be aired during the additional hours; daytime television shows should be suitable for audiences of all ages and low-quality soap operas or game shows should not be broadcast. Also, network television can provide more programming from outside producers, especiallly smaller producers, during the additional hours.
But they should not change their broadcasting schedule in accordance with their convenience by extending it when there are advertisers and shortening it otherwise. Some people adjust their daily schedules to watch favorite television shows. Broadcasting schedules are a promise to audiences, not an arbitrary decision of the broadcasters.
By Park Eun-hee
The writer is a professor of mass communications at Daejin University.
The expansion of broadcasting hours was allowed temporarily during the World Cup soccer matches, and the issue now comes up again as terms of the members of the Korea Broadcasting Commission near their end. Some people criticize the commission for their hasty administration. The networks are now airing three to four additional hours a day, and the commission will probably make that permission permanent. It has given up its role as a media watchdog.
Korean television has concentrated on producing low-quality programs. Even now, audiences complain about the commercialism of shows aired after midnight; the broadcasters are concentrating only on prime-time shows. The expansion of air time will mean nothing but reruns and more reruns. Media advertising is already dominated by the three networks, with a 90-percent advertising share. More hours will make the media imbalance worse.
Some citizen organizations that monitor television programs agree that it is unfair to give additional hours to the networks. Members of these organizations said they would demonstrate against a decision by the commission to add the air time permanently. The Korea Broadcasting Commission should consider the matter rationally and calmly before making its decision.
By Kim Tae-hyun
The writer is the director of TV Monitoring Team at the Citizen's Coalition for Economic Justice.