Stuck in the doldrums

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Stuck in the doldrums

In reporting his organization’s policy agenda for 2010 to the president, Korea Communications Commission head Choi See-joong proposed “market expansion through competition” for the nation’s broadcasters. After its recent revisions to the media law stripped down barriers in the industry, this move further highlights the government’s determination to nurture globally competitive media enterprises.

At this very moment, governments around the world are working hard to nurture their own superstar media groups, meaning the commission’s latest decision is far from premature. A growing number of countries around the world long ago designated the media content industry as a blue ocean of tomorrow and have been making enormous investments and offering legal and other regulatory support.

In France, even the president himself came forward to express his support for full-scale media convergence. Now, a flurry of big-ticket mergers and acquisitions is regularly reported on the news.

But look what is happening in Korea. The lawmakers have managed to revise the media law after much brouhaha, but the government has not even been able to select which media company will be allowed to enter which market in exactly which way.

Much of the blame should be going to the lawmakers, but the government agencies should also be accountable for the ongoing deadlock. Choi’s past promise to select which media groups will enter the broadcast television market has not been fulfilled yet. What’s worse, the communication commission’s senior official even said that the agency would “neither rush nor drag its feet” on the much-anticipated designation. This comment makes us wonder if the KCC fully understands what’s going on in the global media landscape, while the Korean market remains stuck in the doldrums. A growing number of companies are now asking whether the revised media law will have a real impact on the industry in the first half of 2010.

It is not the first time Korea has lost ground in the international market even after developing most cutting-edge technologies first. After developing WiBro for the first time in the world along with other breakthrough IT technologies, Korea is lagging behind after the government was slow in devising the corresponding policies to regulate the technology.

If the government really strives to nurture globally competitive media groups, the most crucial next step is taking the revised media law into reality and getting it adopted by the private sector. The government needs to come up with criteria for selecting the media groups that will be permitted. There is not much time left.
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