[EDITORIALS]Taxpayers deliver the newsIt seems the government will intervene in the newspaper market. Lee Chang-dong, culture and tourism minister, has expressed willingness to promote shared delivery of newspapers by providing finance from the government-held Culture Industry Promotion Fund. In April, he had said he would change uneven market shares of newspapers and introduce a pool delivery system for the purpose.
We recognize that a pool system can prevent overlapping investment and rationalize newspaper management. But we have pointed out editorially that the delivery system must be left to newspapers to decide. A test of joint delivery of five newspapers is under way. According to its results, newspapers will decide whether it helps to solve sales competition and cut management costs. If so, newspapers will organize a consortium to implement it. Joint or individual delivery should be decided by the papers themselves.
We cannot understand why the government is eager to spend public money to deliver goods produced by private newspaper companies. If the government provides hundreds of billions of won in a long-term, low-interest loan, it is an enormous favor to newspapers. Is it permissible to spend taxpayers’ money for delivery of certain newspapers? As long as papers are not nationalized or made government-invested agencies, tax money cannot be spent on them.
“Because of the poor delivery system,” Mr. Lee explains, “some papers cannot provide proper service to their readers. It is necessary to create a fair competition environment among papers.” Printing newspapers and delivering them to readers is a private business. No country in the world pays for newspaper delivery from tax money.
Evidently, the government intends to restructure the newspaper market by intervention. It will divide those papers that look favorably on the government from those that do not, and favor those that favor it. In the history of world media, no paper has performed its function properly while receiving special favors from the government. We want neither government support, nor persecution. Media should be judged only by their readers.