New channels, new era

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New channels, new era

Four new broadcasting channels - JTBC, TV Chosun, Channel A and MBN - began airing yesterday. They have been licensed to broadcast all programs ranging from news to entertainment, a prerogative so far enjoyed only by the three terrestrial broadcasters, KBS, MBC and SBS, the three giants in Korean broadcasting. The heightened level of competition is likely to spur major changes in the domestic media industry.

On Nov. 30 1980, TBC, an affiliate of the JoongAng Ilbo, was forced to shut down by the presiding military regime. This led to a monopoly by terrestrial broadcasters and delayed the modernization of broadcasting.

The government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission last year concluded that the media mergers and acquisitions that took place three decades ago were an abuse of public authority that cast protocol aside and served to shore up the power of the Chun Doo-hwan government. Now the broadcaster has been reborn under the name JTBC.

Audiences are likely to enjoy the benefits of the revamped station as the media environment, both in Korea and overseas, has undergone tremendous change in the interim, ramping up competition in all sectors. Nowadays, for example, a public figure can raise an uproar simply by tweeting a short message on his or her smartphone, and people no longer rely on television alone for entertainment. The new channels must serve a more modern role in keeping with the times and the needs of today’s public.

Public opinion over the last three decades has been guided by terrestrial broadcasters. The newcomers must, first of all, endeavor to represent public opinion in all of its diversity. At the same time, they must be fair and objective, while staunchly defending their public role and abiding by ethical guidelines.

Additionally, they should contribute to honing the international competitiveness of their broadcasting content to appeal to viewers around the world in this globalized age, helping Korean entertainers and other figures ride the next crest of the Korean Wave.

The new stations can also take a leading role in moving to upgrade the nation’s media technology and equipment, with the resulting software and hardware ideally being targeted as a new engine to drive exports.

The competition may be fierce, but it will ultimately be enriching for the country as a whole.
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