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[Editorial] Advancing the Broadcast Industry

Posted September. 06, 2008 07:36,   


The Korean Communications Commission has announced sweeping media deregulation, including lifting a ban on cross media ownership, to boost the competitiveness of the broadcast and communication sector. The commission also plans to vitalize Internet protocol TV, or IPTV, which will play a key role in converging broadcasting and communications, and facilitate participation in the broadcast business by large corporations. Those measures aim to foster the broadcast industry, which is rapidly emerging as a new growth engine.

As an information and technology powerhouse, Korea has the potential to be a global leader in the era of digital convergence. Our potential was also well demonstrated through the broadcast content industry that raised Korean pop culture in Asia. The prospects are not that rosy, however. Take Internet TV service, for example. Since preparation for the service began in 2003, it has made little progress. With the enactment of a law in December last year, it will begin service next month. While the Korean government was dragging its feet, people in 30 countries including the United States, Europe, Japan and Hong Kong watched Internet TV.

The turf war between newspapers and broadcasters and a host of regulations have made the domestic broadcast industry lag behind. Broadcast law bans large companies with more than three trillion won in assets from owning news channels, and this has hindered investment. By prohibiting newspapers from running TV stations, the government has gone against the international trend of achieving synergy through mergers and acquisitions of media businesses. Broadcast workers come forward whenever they consider the independence of broadcasting at risk, but they have put little effort into enhancing the industry’s global competitiveness. It’s no exaggeration to say their shortsightedness has helped make the industry backwards.

The broadcast industry has a great impact on productivity and job creation. Furthermore, the sector will generate a significant amount of added value when IPTV services, equipment and software are developed and enter the global market. The commission said the expansion of the broadcast and communication sector by 2012 will increase productivity by 116 trillion won and create 290,000 jobs. If we fail to act now, we will fall behind other advanced economies and lose market share.

The government should help the broadcast industry pursue fairness and maintain their independence as media. No less important, however, is promoting the industry as a growth engine. Given the loss of ground to other advanced economies, Seoul must pick up speed in deregulation and providing the necessary support. We have enough potential to make up for lost time and make a leap forward.