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Withdraw newspaper notification system

Posted March. 30, 2001 19:14,   


Brakes have been put on the government plan to introduce a newspaper notification system. At this juncture, the government is urged to scrap a maneuver to re-introduce the anachronistic method of controlling the press. The regulation reform committee convened a related subcommittee meeting on Thursday and decided to withhold the newspaper notification plan the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) had decided to enforce from May, saying that there is little reason to implement the plan under the present circumstances.

At the subcommittee panel meeting, four civic members out of seven raised problems with the enforcement of the notification system. They reportedly asserted that little change has been made in the newspaper market since the notification plan was abolished in 1999, the newspaper market has not deteriorated so much as to require a special inspection and it is even doubtful that the present national situation is critical enough to necessitate the enforcement of the system. They also pointed to the inconsistent state policy and the probability of double regulations.

The government abolished the newspaper notification program in 1999, as part of the deregulation reform policy. Since then, newspaper companies have implemented fair trade rules that they implemented in order to improve the newspaper market. Nonetheless, to our dismay, the government has come up with an abrupt move to reintroduce the plan with tougher stipulations than the previous one. Of course, this runs counter to the current tendency toward self-regulation. Moreover, any unfair practice committed by press organizations can be controlled by the Fair Trade Act.

We are inclined to question why the FTC is so impatiently moving to revive the system against the newspapers. The commission stated that it has finalized a new plan in consultation with the related Ministry of Culture-Tourism, the Newspaper Publishers Association and the Newspaper Advertisers Association. But there are few changes in the final plan, compared with the draft version. The related newspaper organizations noted that opinion-gathering was conducted only through written questions for eight days between Mar. 2 and 9 and that the opinions furnished by the organizations were hardly reflected in the proposed plan.

In view of this development, it is assumed that the FTC may have intended to enforce the system after going through necessary procedures. What`s more, this move seems to have been put into motion in conjunction with the recent tax audits of the media organizations by the National Tax Service and fair trade probes by the FTC.

We are of the view that the civic members of the regulation reform committee rightly reflected the realities of the newspaper market. Hopefully, the particular question will be rationally reviewed at the deregulation committee again on Apr. 4, when the newspaper notification plan is inaugurated. During the meeting, there should be no attempts to obstruct discussions aimed at reaching a reasonable decision on this matter.

Given that the newspaper market should follow the supply and demand principle, any attempts to sway the press with state power should be done away with once and for all.