[Viewpoint] Our media face a fierce new world

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[Viewpoint] Our media face a fierce new world

“The barbaric times have passed and we stand before the historic moment of the restoration of the Tongyang Broadcasting Corporation to its original condition.”

Hwang In-yong made the announcement in an emotional voice at a TBC family gathering on the evening of Nov. 30. Nearly 400 participants recalled the day when the Fifth Republic military government forcibly separated the JoongAng Ilbo and Tongyang Broadcasting Corporation 29 years ago.

They have gathered every year on the anniversary of the lowering the flag of the Tongyang Broadcasting Corporation. They are the ones who produced the last program and cried as they paid respects to viewers. An even larger number of people gathered this year. They were a galaxy of popular TV stars, radio performers, singers, reporters, anchors and producers who play active parts before TV cameras. On this year’s anniversary, the mood had lightened. Participants had regained the hope of recovering the TBC or engaging in broadcasting again.

“I am waiting for you, only you still. You are still my lover,” singer Lee Eun-ha cried in the end. She also sang the same song on that day 29 years ago. She was forbidden from appearing in the broadcast by the regime. Tears streamed from people’s eyes.

TBC TV, as the relative newcomer, had the highest ratings in nearly every area, including news reporting, drama, entertainment, and sports. Its programs always garnered attention and became part of history. It attempted to broadcast news in English in 1968. It tried various forms of news broadcasting under a consistent banner of fairness and neutrality using the advantages of a privately owned broadcaster. As a result, it took the lead in viewer satisfaction.

The media sector has undergone turbulent changes in the past 29 years. It has evolved from black and white TVs to color, to LED and finally to ultra high definition and 3D.

The means of broadcasting have also changed, going from over-the-air to satellite, and to cable. And now we have Internet television.

All the nation’s broadcast TV stations will go digital by 2012. If we want to know something, we can connect directly to a database and check it using a short message service. We can chat with a friend online while watching a TV drama. We can shop by simply pressing a button.

All of this is available using a mobile phone.

The boundaries between newspapers, broadcasters and other forms of communications have already collapsed. A wholly new media world, where newspapers, broadcasting, cable television, the Internet and mobile communications become closely intermingled and are transformed into a new type is on the horizon. The new media are on the verge of breaking fresh ground.

Global competition seeking to open up a whole new world of business opportunities is fierce. Giant media groups in the United States, which for long have been produced through active mergers and acquisitions, are quickly finding a way to a better future.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Time Warner are combining the management of dozens of broadcasting corporations and hundreds of newspaper, publishing, Internet and film firms internationally as well as in the United States.

ABC, Disney, Microsoft and NBC are creating synergy effects through various combinations. The European Union is actively engaging in devising measures to facilitate media convergence and deregulation.

The world is rushing forward in the fast lane. However, Korea has often appeared to overlook what’s happening, just like the Joseon Dynasty’s policy of seclusion at the end of the Joseon era.

Some people are trying to turn back the clock just as we - with great difficulty - have opened a new way for managing both newspapers and broadcast stations. We are witnessing a skit where some lawmakers stage a sit-down demonstration asking that their position be accepted or they will resign from the National Assembly. Some people claim that newspaper companies seeking to be cable TV multicontent broadcasters will lead to some sort of destruction.

Although the “barbaric times” dominated by military violence have passed, ignorance from those times is trying to set a trap for the future of the industry for ideological reasons. This is antiquated thinking.

It is regrettable to waste valuable time. However, the government is still procrastinating. We even hear a rumor that hearings on multicontent broadcasters may be delayed after local government elections next year, which were originally scheduled for the year’s end and the beginning of the new year. In what ways are hearings on multicontent broadcasters and elections related to each other? At least, the government should specify a schedule for implementation.

Thus, we must ask: Have the barbaric times truly ended?

*The writer is the chief editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Heo Nam-chin
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