[Outlook]Media integrationIn the process of forming the Broadcasting and Communi- cations Commission, the people involved were surrounded by conflict and confrontation. Finally, the body is ready to begin operations.
The commission is a collegiate system in which five standing members whom the president directly oversees represents the body.
It is a powerful commission, overseeing all policies related to communications and wired and wireless media outlets.
Many countries around the world are creating new services, integrating broadcasting and communications, and use such services as new growth engines to boost competition.
They also put efforts into establishing new institutions to oversee and manage this sector.
By launching the Broadcasting and Communications Commission, we have joined this global trend.
However, it is still regretful that conflict and confrontation erupted over the issue of hiring the head of the commission.
As a result, there has been a lack of debate about the commission’s purposes and its effective management.
It is doubtful whether the Broadcasting and Communications Commission, a body formed by outsiders, will carry out its tasks competently and effectively.
This worry is understandable, considering the discrepancy in concepts between the broadcasting and the communications fields.
There have been widespread worries in the broadcasting industry that once the borders between broadcasting and communications are collapsed, communications operators, which have much more capital and technology, will absorb the broadcasting industry entirely.
Meanwhile, communications operators complain that broadcasters enjoy an unfair monopoly, blocking their entrance into the market, using the excuse that broadcasters uphold and defend the public interest.
Communications operators also claim that broadcasters are overly charged with political and ideological content and thus neglect the nation’s industrial development, such as the formation of a new market, which weakens our country’s competitiveness.
The most urgent task of the new commission, under these circumstances, is to confirm that broadcasting and communications should not necessarily conflict with each other. Rather, they are complementary and have the capacity to enhance each other’s competitiveness.
Around the world, a country’s competitiveness is determined by whether it has wired and wireless broadband networks, and these networks’ volume.
The Broadcasting and Communications Commission must make the argument that broadcasting and communications need to be integrated to advance. They must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that to do this is not a matter of choice but a necessary step for survival.
Another important task for the commission is to change regulations and laws on broadcasting and communications, which were drawn up in the past when analog technology was used, so that regulations and laws become more realistic in the new environment.
As for content, transmission services and transmission networks are already being integrated, so it is no longer effective to regulate operators on the basis of their types of media and services.
For instance, Internet protocol TV, cable networks entering the communication industry and daily newspapers running broadcasting businesses all bring this issue to the forefront.
But different technologies are integrated around the globe, and massive foreign capital might enter the Korean domestic market as economic borders disappear. Thus, the integration of these services can no longer be delayed.
It is time to think about the reform of half-public and half-private broadcasters from this perspective.
The reform of this strange system has been on the agenda whenever a new administration takes office, but nobody has dared to implement any changes.
When broadcasting system becomes digitized, the number of available channels will double, and this is expected to happen in the near future.
Thus, the status and roles of national networks must be adjusted.
The Broadcasting and Communications Commission emphasizes the importance of the industrial effect of the integration of broadcasting and communications.
We hope that the commission will pay attention to social and cultural aspects of the integration as well.
Society advances only when diverse, healthy public opinions are expressed, and the quality of its content is maintained.
*The writer is a professor of journalism and mass communication at Yonsei University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Young-seok