[Viewpoint]Now that commission exists, fix it

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[Viewpoint]Now that commission exists, fix it

It took almost 10 years for the historic launch of the Broadcasting and Communica-tions Commission. It was in March 1999 when the presidential advisory organization headed by the late minister Kang Won-yong proposed that the commission be activated, with a suggested start date of 2001. Although it is belated, we welcome its establishment.
The progress to date has been, in short, full of turmoil.
There have been too many discussions surrounding not only the commission’s goals, but the measures it will take. Numerous self-proclaimed experts have suggested a variety of opinions on the matter, but there has not been a consensus formed to reach the original goal.
In that sense, the launch of the Broadcasting and Communications Commission signals the final exit from that long and winding tunnel of ineffectiveness.
The fundamental goal of a government organization is to achieve the goals pursued by the government that created it. But once established, the organizations in many cases instead makes its own existence its highest goal.
The people who work at the broadcasting and communications commission should not forget that the commission’s function is to realize our nation’s goals in the 21st century, during the digital fusion age.
The organization itself is not granted any supreme, absolute value. But as the sub-structure representing broadcasting and communications, it needs to keep in mind that media in the digital age have moved from mass production and consumption toward diversified, small-batch personal media production and consumption.
Therefore, diversity has become more important now than in any other age. In dealing with the media, it is better to entrust the job to a consensus-based organization than a one-sided, independently appointed agency.
People seem to have a couple of concerns. One is that the broadcasting and communications commission is under the president. The present type of commission was chosen as a reaction to the evil practices of independent broadcasting commissions in the past. For the commission to conduct its duties independently, political temperance is needed.
The incumbent ruling party lawmakers submitted the bill to establish the broadcasting and communications commission under the command of the president a year ago, so they are contradicting themselves if they tell a different story.
Also, since even independently appointed departments have widely used the consensus system to guarantee fairness in what they do, their argument to separate promotional activities from the commission is weak.
Another concern is that a consensus-based agency will be slow to make policy decisions.
Because a unanimous consensus is not literally required, the commission should introduce a regulatory system that makes responsibilities clear and procedures transparent.
To create a more desirable broadcasting and communications commission, I would like to make a few suggestions.
First, its policy goals should be focused on the realization of digital democracy, the promotion of digital culture and the development of the digital industry. The development of the digital industry should not be its single goal. Needless to say, deregulation is one of the means to achieve its goals, but that should never be the ultimate goal by itself.
Second, the regulatory system should be operated openly. The past evils came about due to an opaque policymaking process and regulations. Thus, a regulatory system should guarantee fair competition by securing transparency in executing related regulations.
Also, a systematic regulation and deregulation should be achieved through a comprehensive assessment of the competition in the open market.
Third, if the government aims at deregulation, the commission has no reason to make big moves. That is even more true if a public deliberation committee is separately created.
Fourth, a content-oriented policy should be adopted. Diverse institutional and financial support should be made available to enable us to produce, distribute and share varied and high-quality content.
To this end, cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the transfer of some funds to the Ministry of Knowledge-based Economy, be-sides broadcasting development funds, should be reviewed.
Of course, all policies and functions should be customer-centered.

*The writer is the director of the Media & Future Institute. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Kuk-jin
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