[EDITORIALS]Working on a good press bill

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[EDITORIALS]Working on a good press bill

The press lives on freedom. The social responsibilities of the press should be handled on a voluntary basis.
Autonomy and the principles of a market economy are prerequisites for the press to advance and for society to become more democratic. Bills discussing the press should contain such principles.
Also the bills should concur with global standards so that Korea’s press can compete with the world’s leading news organs.
We believe the Grand National Party’s bill on press freedom, presented yesterday, generally reflects the principles described above. It would allow a fair press to be maintained voluntarily by newspapers themselves and would oblige them to make public their circulations through the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Those are tools that would protect press freedom and at the same time entrust the press with social responsibilities.
In particular, the Grand National bill would ease newspaper start-up regulations so that any company that wanted to print newspapers could do so by reporting to the authorities. Currently, those who wish to issue newspapers are required to receive approvals from authorities.
The bill would impose no circulation controls on newspapers except in the case of a merger or acquisition. Newspapers would be barred from merging or acquiring another newspaper if their combined market share exceeds 30 percent, which we believe is a global standard. Furthermore, the bill would allow newspaper companies to own and run broadcasting stations within certain limits, which we believe would help newspapers cope with a new media environment.
But the fairness measures in the bill do not go far enough. Regulations on promotions, such as including presents in newspapers, are not sufficient to re-establish the broken order of the newspaper market. One of the darkest sides of the Korean newspaper market is unfair transactions. We believe stricter penalties are called for to stop things like providing free bicycles to new subscribers.
Now the press bills of both the governing and the opposition parties are on the table. Draconian clauses need to be removed from the governing Uri Party’s bill and more parts need to be included in the Grand National bill.
Lawmakers should work hard to prepare a bill that forges a future-oriented free press.
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