Media policy is backwardThe government finalized a new media policy at a Cabinet meeting yesterday. Now each government department has a briefing room, but in August, briefing rooms will be made into three joint briefing centers in government office complexes in Seoul, Gwacheon and Daejeon.
The policy adopted at the Cabinet meeting is meant to block the media’s function of reporting and monitoring, and infringes on the people’s right to know ― a step backward to the level of freedom of speech under the military despotic regime. While the notorious media measure in 1980 shut down media outlets by force, the recent measure is a trick to control information by narrowing sources and channels of news. This measure is criticized by all media outlets, all political parties, whether progressive or conservative, and the presidential hopefuls.
The Roh Moo-hyun administration persistently seeks to control the media even now when its term is nearing its end. It is natural for suspicions to arise over whether this measure was the result of a calculation designed to impact the presidential election, because the cabinet pushed hard to finalize the policy.
Members of this administration used harsh words about daily newspapers that criticized the administration, such as “poisonous” or “unwholesome food.” Immediately after he entered office, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “We are working in a bad media environment” and “We must defend ourselves from some media outlets’ jealousy and persecution.” His distorted view and the arrogance toward the media have materialized into this weird policy.
The government claims that this policy will enhance transparency of the media by increasing the volume of information. But this is a lie because those in power and the media naturally have tension between them. The government seems to say that it will publicize only information examined and passed by government officials transparently.
Under the new policy, it will become hard to monitor the administration, even if affairs are decided in a secret room or corruption takes place in a government department.
Other than Web sites of the Blue House and the Government Information Agency, the government owns 11 TV and radio channels where it can handle personnel affairs at will. There has been criticism that the government manipulated discussion topics to create public support. This measure goes one step further and stifles freedom of speech, which is stipulated in Article 21 of the Constitution.