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Lee-Park Set to “Restore Press Rooms if They Take Office”

Lee-Park Set to “Restore Press Rooms if They Take Office”

Posted June. 02, 2007 03:25,   


Two Grand National Party presidential candidates, former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak and former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye, lambasted the sitting administration’s recent move to consolidate government press rooms and briefing rooms in one voice, denouncing it as denial of freedom of speech and democracy.

Lee encouraged the media to expect change of situation during the next administration and to keep working on securing freedom of speech. Park said that the Grand National Party will actively join protests against the closures through legislative activities, and that she would restore the pressroom if she takes office.

The two hopefuls, Lee on May 31 and Park on June 1, respectively, attended an editor in chiefs’ and news directors’ seminar hosted by the Korea Journalism and Broadcasting Editors Association at the Lotte Hotel in Seogwipo, Jeju and slammed the media policies of the current administration.

On the consolidation of pressroom, the former mayor said, “The government is apparently trying to win sympathy from the public amid its fight with the media.”

Park also stressed that the decision to control the press is only possible in a state of emergency, is totally unacceptable, and must be reversed.

Concerning the dispute over the possible abolition of the Government Information Agency (GIA), which proposed the closure of the press rooms, Lee said, “We don’t need GIA. It would be efficient to have private companies take care of overseas promotions.” Park also agreed with the abolition, saying that the GIA wastes taxes to advertise achievements of the sitting administration with a biased view.

Meanwhile, Lee acknowledged the need for amending the so-called “newspaper law” and “private school law” and called for future oriented approaches highlighting autonomy and principles. (The “newspaper law” contains articles limiting the market share of the top three papers and banning them from operating in broadcasting and other media channels. The “private school law” requires all private schools to fill a quarter of their boards of directors with outside personnel recommended by a group of parents and teachers.)

Park also said she would revise the newspaper law, some of whose clauses were ruled unconstitutional.

At the seminar, former mayor Lee emphasized that “convergence” will be the key to changes in the future media environment. He said, “We need to legislate a law embracing convergence between different media, such as broadcasting and communications, broadcasting and newspapers from various perspectives, and we should organize a “21st Century media committee” to brace for such convergence.

The former GNP chairwoman said that she is working on a measure that enables the National Tax Service and Fair Trade Commission to work within fair system, as the agencies were criticized for serving as a tool to suppress the media.

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