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Ruling Party Presents Revised Media Reform Bill

Posted July. 22, 2009 07:03,   


The ruling Grand National Party announced yesterday a revised media reform bill that prohibits conglomerates and newspapers from buying broadcast networks until 2012.

The bill also significantly lowers the upper limit of shares in comprehensive and news channels.

Na Kyung-won, the party’s representative at the National Assembly Committee on Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications, presented the bill at a meeting of party lawmakers held at parliament.

The party’s original bill set the share limits of conglomerates and newspapers at 20 percent in terrestrial broadcasting, 30 percent in comprehensive channels, and 49 percent in news channels. The revised bill changes them to 10, 30 and 30 percent, respectively, reflecting the proposals of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party and former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye.

Liberty Forward urged the limit for terrestrial broadcasting to be 10 percent. Park said the cap for news channels should be 30 percent.

The revised bill will also allow only newspaper companies with subscription rates of less than 25 percent to enter broadcasting.

The ruling party is reportedly determined to make no concessions on the latest revised bill.

The main opposition Democratic Party, however, is reportedly reviewing its own bill that forbids conglomerates and newspapers from participating in terrestrial broadcasting and allows only newspaper companies with a market share of below 15 percent to own shares in comprehensive channels.

The opposition party’s floor leader Lee Kang-rae said, “The ruling party is deceiving the public by pretending it made a big concession with the revision,” adding, “The ruling party is taking a step to unilaterally pass the bill.”

Negotiations over the bill between the ruling and main opposition parties were scheduled to resume yesterday morning, but got delayed due to protracted meetings of each party’s lawmakers.

If the two parties fail to reach an agreement, the ruling party will railroad the bill by urging the National Assembly speaker to invoke his authority to put the bill to a vote either Thursday or Friday.

National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o asked the ruling and opposition parties to present a schedule by the end of the week, the end of the extra parliamentary session. “Along with the media bill, I urge them to discuss a bill on financial holding companies,” he said.

A source at the speaker’s office said, “The comment is Kim’s ultimatum to exercise his authority for a floor vote if the ruling and opposition parties fail to reach an agreement.”

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