[EDITORIALS]A bad proposal for TV viewersAt a gathering of the Korea Federation of Advertising Associations, Culture Minister Chung Dong-chae said Wednesday that the government would consider allowing commercial breaks for TV broadcasters and ease regulations on commercial air time by giving more rights to the broadcasters to make decisions on the frequency and types of the commercials they run. The idea will be no help for viewers, nor will it improve the quality of programs or balance development among the media.
Commercial breaks in the middle of TV programs disturb the flow of the programs, taking away viewers’ pleasure. After the practice of commercial breaks was stopped by the Chun Doo Hwan administration, broadcasters and the advertising industry have continued to try to re-establish it. Their attempts failed repeatedly, however, because the practice is such a displeasure for viewers and the resumption means a backward step in media advertising policy.
If Mr. Chung is a responsible culture minister, he should try to reduce the media’s dependence on commercials. It is hard to understand why he is taking the initiative to increase commercials for TV networks. Is he working as a spokesman for the broadcasters? Is he acting in return for the TV networks’ cooperation in promoting government policies?
The three networks are airing too many dramas and entertainment programs in comparison to those in Europe. When commercial breaks are introduced, the networks will engage in even fiercer competition for ratings. Sensational programs will be rampant.
The plan to ease regulations on commercial air time is also a serious concern. Under the current law, commercial air time must not exceed 10 percent of a program. When the regulations are eased, the commercial air time limit will likely go up. In 2003, the Korea Broadcasting Commission had already attempted to raise the commercial air time limit to 20 percent.
When the changes are made, networks and the advertising industry will be the sole beneficiaries. In the 6.8 trillion won ($6.4 billion) advertising market, TV broadcasters have earned the most income, and TV has become the No. 1 advertising medium. Despite this, the minister is trying to help the networks earn more money. That is clearly discrimination against the print media. Only a fair media policy will be persuasive.