Broadcasting plan canceled at last minute

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Broadcasting plan canceled at last minute

The government yesterday postponed a plan for comprehensive measures to develop the broadcasting industry after major broadcasters questioned their fairness.

Three related policy agencies - the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Korea Communications Commission, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism - were set to publicly announce the measures yesterday but canceled the plan the night before. A new date was not announced.

A draft of the measures was unveiled at a public discussion session on Nov. 4, and a final version has been in the making after consultations with various experts and business operators.

The cancelation came a day after four broadcasters - KBS, MBC, SBS and EBS - held a press conference to demand that the government go back to the drawing board and jettison a plan to allow only paid channel operators - cable and satellite TV businesses - to launch broadcasting in ultra high-definition (UHD) format starting in 2014 for cable and 2015 for satellite operators.

“If only paid channels get approval to broadcast UHD programs, domestic content in the format won’t be enough to fill the broadcast hours and the channels will eventually have to rely on foreign-made UHD content,” said Park Jae-man, secretary general of the Korean Broadcasters Association, which represents the major broadcasters.

The government has yet to come up with the date for the major broadcasters to launch UHD programming, which is at least four times better in screen quality than HDTV.

UHD-enabled televisions cost at least tens of millions of won each, meaning there won’t be a huge demand at the start.

But rumors say the big broadcasters are more concerned about being allowed to run commercial breaks, which are currently only available on cable TV operators such as tvN and Olive, and general programming networks such as JTBC, run by the JoongAng Media Network, and TV Chosun, run by the Chosun Ilbo.

The big broadcasters want more time allocated to commercials, but their smaller and relatively newer counterparts say that would hurt them. The big broadcasters are estimated to control more than 60 percent of the TV advertising market.


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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