Allow media mergers

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Allow media mergers

The world is struggling to nurture global media enterprises by abolishing barriers among businesses, with an aim toward developing the industry’s unlimited potential and preparing a post-crisis reorganization of global influences.

France amended its broadcasting act last February to nurture the development of its media companies. Japan began allowing mergers between newspapers and broadcasting companies long ago. The United States is taking steps to permit cross-media mergers for companies operating within the same locality, something that has so far been banned.

Korea is the only country among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member states that prohibits big businesses from getting into broadcasting. We are going against the global standard. We are too caught up in factional fighting and ignoring the market’s logic, which is causing our media industry to get stagnant.

Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun expressed opposition to the proposed revisions to the broadcasting law, saying, “The media bill is against democracy and the people’s will.” He insists that if conglomerates and newspaper companies move into the broadcasting sector, the media will lose its ability to protect the public interest. But this is unrealistic.

In developed nations, barriers between businesses are disappearing. In the United States, democracy and industry develop simultaneously, and big business interests are in harmony with the interests of the general public, according to Choi See-joong, the chairman of the Korea Communications Commission.

In addition, erasing the barriers among businesses could contribute to the resolution of the global economic downturn, as recent data shows. The Korea Information Society Development Institute predicts that lifting regulations on broadcasting and communications companies will give birth to a 1.56 trillion won market and create nearly 20,000 jobs.

At a time when other countries are struggling to defend their jobs amid the unprecedented economic downturn, we are being forced to forgo tens of thousands of high-paying jobs due to time-consuming disputes about what’s best for the public interest.

The Korea Communications Commission revealed its position when it said it would decide which companies will be allowed to operate the broadcasting companies. This is a step in the right direction.

The government should step up its efforts to pass the relevant bills and support related media institutions. The National Assembly should pass the media bills next month as promised.

These actions may be the only way to avoid having factional struggles hamper industrial development.
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