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Fair Trade Probe Targets 4 Newspapers

Posted December. 01, 2005 03:22,   


The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an “unfair trade” probe into four major newspapers.

The FTC investigation on newspapers comes four years and nine months after the February 2001 investigation which took place along with the National Tax Service tax probe during the Kim Dae-jung administration.

The FTC announced that it has initiated an investigation on unfair trade by dispatching investigators to Chosun Ilbo’s headquarters in Jung-gu, Seoul on Wednesday. The Commission has requested the company to submit data on sales trends.

The FTC will investigate only the three major papers and one economic paper, starting with Chosun Ilbo (November 30 to December 2), followed by Dong-A Ilbo (December 5 to 7), The Herald Business (December 8 and 9), and JoongAng Ilbo (December 12 to 14).

The director general of the KFTC`s Competition Bureau, Kim Byung-bae, said, “The Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media (CCDM) reported in November 2003 that Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo, and JoongAng Ilbo issued more free papers in 2002 than regulated. Our investigation is based on that report. According to the rules, we must investigate all reported cases.”

Kim also said, “One of Herald Business’s local branches reported unfair trade activities by its headquarters, so we included the company in our investigation. In Chosun and JoongAng’s cases also, there were reports from local branches on top of the report from CCDM.”

However, the FTC is known to be planning investigations into all cases of unfair trade since 2003, as well as into reports from the CCDM and local newspaper branches. This means the scope of the investigation will expand further.

On this issue, a source from the FTC explained, “The commission might have added more investigation subjects to avoid criticism that might arise over it going to the extent of investigating the headquarters only to look into what was reported by the civic group.”

The FTC plans to analyze the investigation results and then open a plenary meeting to decide on the level of disciplinary action to take, such as imposing fines.

Ki-Jeong Ko Chang-Won Kim koh@donga.com changkim@donga.com