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`Threatening Advertisers Is Not Freedom of Speech`

Posted August. 30, 2008 03:26,   


Oppression of advertisers to pressure them from running ads in certain newspapers isn’t freedom of speech, according to an expert.

“The advertising boycott campaign against the major dailies Chosun Ilbo, The Dong-A Ilbo and The JoongAng Ilbo staged amid anti-U.S. beef protests is aimed to shut down the publications,” said law professor Moon Jae-wan at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul yesterday.

Moon spoke at a seminar on the ad boycott campaign organized by the Korean Association for Advertising and Public Relations. “The idea does not endorse newspapers with different points of view. This negates the principle of freedom of expression,” he said.

Press freedom enshrined in the Constitution also guarantees freedom of business operations that allows newspaper companies to publish newspapers, said Moon. “Though the ad boycott is considered part of the consumer movement, infringement on freedom of business operation unacceptable by the general public constitutes obstruction of business punishable by law.”

“The act of posting facts on Web bulletin boards and filing complaints with consumer rights organizations can be called consumer movements. But making indiscriminate phone calls to offices and intentionally making and then canceling reservations at travel agencies running ads in certain dailies constitute interference with business.”

Jeon Yeong-woo, a professor of Inchon University, presented a conflicting opinion. “The list of advertisers targeted in the boycott is being posted on the Web and indiscriminate calls are being made in the United States as well. They are not considered illegal practices.”

To this, Moon said, “America’s ad boycott campaigns, including those waged on the Web site foxattacks.com, is mainly to correct false reports, not to close newspapers.”

“Ad boycotts to protect consumer rights are considered an act to preserve freedom of speech, but denying the presence of certain newspapers by certain Web cafes set up to protest U.S. beef imports should not be considered freedom of speech.”