[EDITORIALS]Partial victory for the pressThe Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional yesterday a clause in the Newspaper Act stipulating that any three newspapers whose combined market share exceeds 60 percent can be regulated as a monopoly.
A clause in the Press Arbitration Act that allows claims for correction to be made with a provisional disposition, without a court hearing and without presenting crucial evidence, was also ruled unconstitutional yesterday.
The clause regarding monopolies had put a limit on readers’ choice in newspapers and negated the freedom of press.
While the fair trade law regulates monopolistic industries when the top-three businesses’ combined market shares exceed 75 percent, under the newspaper law, newspapers whose market share exceeded 60 percent were called monopolies.
Under this clause, major dailies could be excluded from receiving grants from the newspaper development fund. In this regard, the court order pinpointed that applying a lower standard to regulating “a monopoly in the newspaper business is an infringement on the principle of equality.”
Regarding the clause on claims for corrections, the ruling says that clear evidence must be presented to prove that all or a part of the news was not true. But it is regrettable that the court ruled constitutional a clause that allows claims for corrections to be made even when misstated facts are not the result of mistakes. Because of this clause, the media is restrained from raising suspicions and making accusations because people involved in corrupt practices usually deny any allegations.
Regarding a clause that allows a third party to ask for a correction, the court ruled that the clause is only an advisory one and does not create a possibility of violating basic rights. Controversy over this clause will likely continue.
The ruling that said dailies cannot own another newspaper was widely welcomed. But many experts said that the ruling banning newspapers from owning broadcasting companies has unconstitutional factors.
This court ruling clearly showed that the Newspaper Act and the Press Arbitration Act were enacted with the intention of putting pressure on several selected newspapers. The administration and the ruling party should accept this court ruling in a humble manner and revise the unconstitutional clauses.
We believe that the time has come to drop the Newspaper Law entirely; it runs counter to freedom of the press and market principles.