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Nat`l Assembly Speaker Backs Media Reform Bills

Posted July. 21, 2009 07:50,   


National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o yesterday threw his support behind contentious bills on domestic media reform for the first time.

“It is time for new faces to join groups enjoying vested rights in many parts of society. To do so, we should bring down entry barriers to broadcasting as well through deregulation,” he said.

In a phone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo, he said, “Groups that try to maintain their vested rights are behind the controversy surrounding the media reform bills.”

“Both progressive and conservative parties have their respective vested rights. If the progressive party only focuses on keeping such rights, that is tantamount to excessive adherence to the past. There should be a balance between groups that try to maintain vested rights and those that take on new challenges.”

Prior to the interview, he held a meeting with reporters at his office. “Neither foot dragging nor unilateral force should be tolerated in the negotiations over the media bills.”

“There is little time to discuss the bills further. We will not keep on waiting,” he said, hinting at invoking his authority to hold a vote on the bills this week if the negotiations fail.

“Issues that cause intense clashes between various interests should be left to social discussion. Foot dragging at the National Assembly will not automatically lead to an agreement. The longer the delay, the more intense the conflict becomes.”

The floor leaders of both the ruling Grand National Party and main opposition Democratic Party negotiated over the bills in downtown Seoul with members of the parliamentary culture and broadcasting committees. They reportedly experienced difficulty in reaching an agreement, however.

A potentially bigger headache for the ruling party, however, is the internal confusion caused by former Chairwoman Park Geun-hye’s objection to the bills. Song Kwang-ho, a member of both the party’s supreme council and the pro-Park group, said, “Certain pro-Park members in a meeting decided not to oppose bringing the bills to the floor in recognition of the party’s efforts.”

taylor55@donga.com gaea@donga.com