Democratic media rules

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Democratic media rules

Yesterday, the Democrats boycotted a meeting of the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications Committee. Only lawmakers from the Grand National, Liberty Forward and Pro-Park United parties attended the session and listened to the opinions of the Media Development Authority.

The Democrats have argued that there was not sufficient airing of public opinion before the media industry reforms were proposed. They have refused to participate in the writing of the Media Development Authority report and threatened to break their March promise to vote on the bills during the June session.

It is hard to understand why the DP did not attend yesterday’s meeting. It was not a voting session in which the ruling GNP could use its majority to push the bills through. Furthermore, the Democrats presented their own version of the media industry reform bills and submitted them to the National Assembly yesterday, so it would have been natural for them to attend the meeting, explain their proposals and coordinate the details with other parties. But they haven’t done this, prompting skepticism about why they drafted their own version of the bills.

The DP’s bills lack seriousness. They appear to have been created not for the purpose of seeking compromise, but for the sake of opposing the GNP’s proposal. Although the world media environment has undergone radical change in recent years, the DP’s proposals are rather reactionary, and hearken back to an age of tighter media industry regulations.

Revision of the media industry laws aims for diversity, freedom and competition, but the DP proposal calls for the opposite.

The current laws governing the broadcasting industry are remnants of the military era when the media was tightly controlled. They are unfit for today’s media landscape. Barriers should be removed and competition should be encouraged to improve quality. To compete in the international market, aggressive investment is vital. And yet, the Democrats’ proposals are aimed at erecting barriers and banning investments.

The reason for operating a multi-content broadcaster would be to increase its competitiveness by airing both news and entertainment programs. Taking away the news element would make the operation meaningless and render networks the same as existing channels.

The DP argues that only minor newspapers with less than 10 percent of the market should be given the right to invest in multi-content broadcasters, revealing its intention to give that opportunity to the smaller newspapers favorable to them. This is a political calculation.

The Newspaper Act created under the Roh administration said the top three newspapers dominated the market, gagging the critical press. It was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. What the Democrats are doing right now appears to be a repeat of that.

Is it democratic for lawmakers to present bills but avoid discussion on them? There is no need for an election if a political party refuses to open a legislative session unless their proposals are accepted. Democracy is based on dialogue, compromise and decision by a majority.

A political party that does not respect these ideals is not democratic.
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