[EDITORIALS]Leave newspapers aloneThe Korea Newspapers Association announced its opposition to the government’s plan to intervene in the newspaper market. The association, comprised of 47 domestic newspapers, said in a statement, “The regulations should be minimized to keep the independence of the press and the free market competition system.” The association added, “The government should let the media regulate themselves.” The Korean Newspaper and Broadcasting Editors Association also said in a statement, “We oppose any plan to threaten the freedom of the press.”
The Fair Trade Commission plans to revise Article 11 of the code of conduct for newspapers -- “If a company does unfair activities, such as offering excessive premiums, the Korea Newspapers Association can punish the company, through imposing a penalty on it or by other measures,” so that the government can replace the association of newspapers in sanctioning those companies for unfair practices. But nongovernment members of the Regulatory Reform Committee, a governmental advisory group, applied brakes to the government’s plan twice. They said that the aim of the government’s plan was unclear and the effectiveness of the plan was doubtful. Because nongovernment members are holding fast to the view indicates that the government’s reason for the plan to revise the code of conduct for newspapers lacks the power of persuasion.
The Fair Trade Commission insists that the newspaper distribution market was out of order, so the government needed to intervene in the market. Last year, there was some disorder in newspaper business practices. But this year, newspapers declared that they would voluntarily purify the market.
The Korea Newspapers Association is showing the will to regulate its own business practices. If the Fair Trade Commission continues to push the plan to revise the code of conduct for newspapers, despite the association’s movement, the government might be suspected of shackling any criticism of newspapers, rather than establishing order in the newspaper market. The government should let newspapers regulate themselves.