A step forward for the media

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A step forward for the media

If we think about the reason for the National Assembly’s passage last year of the revised media laws, the future becomes clear. The government was seeking to raise the global competitiveness of our media industry by demolishing the existing barriers between, for example, newspapers and broadcast media. Even China supports efforts to tear down the walls between various media and to maximize and digitalize media companies through its own national media industry development plan.

In our case, opposition parties put up resistance during the debates over the bills for their own political gain, which created unnecessary misunderstanding among the public and slowed progress after the laws were passed. While other countries moved quickly and shrewdly to get their laws passed, our politicians dug in and dragged their feet.

Therefore, we appreciate yesterday’s announcement by the Korea Communications Commission, which presented a road map for selecting the owners of general programming and news channels. In particular, the announcement clarified previous uncertainties about future procedures.

Last July, the commission had said that it would decide the owner of the channels “around November” after the media laws were passed in the National Assembly. But they eventually ate their words. Even considering such variables as the ruling by the Constitutional Court on the righteousness of the revised laws or the drafting of new implementing ordinances, the commission increased political speculation with its delays. Now, we urge the commission to keep its promises: to announce in August how companies will be selected and by what standards, to give the public notice about the bidding in September, and to decide the winner by year’s end.

More importantly, however, is the objectivity, fairness and transparency of the process as the companies allowed to operate broadcast channels are chosen. The selection criteria should also be in accordance with the purpose of the media law revisions in that the decision should go beyond whether it would be advantageous - or disadvantageous - to a particular media company. They should also root out any potential political considerations or it could damage the legitimacy of the law.

Above all, the commission should consider a company’s ability to be competitive in the fierce international media market, as well as the strength of its content.

Finally, the process should proceed in a manner that is transparent enough to earn the trust of the people.

We call on the commission to do its job well for the advancement of Korean media.
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