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[Editorial] Are the Gov’t and Ruling Party Powerless?

Posted August. 06, 2009 08:24,   


The main opposition Democratic Party, which is waging a protest outside the National Assembly against the recently passed bills on media revision, is lying to the people. The party through its own media has blasted the major dailies Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo as being opposed to democracy, the poor and Korean reunification, and being conservative media. The party also said the three dailies seek to just praise the Lee Myung-bak administration and curry favor with the privileged class. Democratic Party leader Chung Sye-kyun said, “When the three newspapers enter broadcasting, they will dominate national media by hampering the public’s ability to make the correct judgment. Freedom of speech will disappear and democracy will regress because of media law.”

The opposition party has lost its temper. How is Dong-A being anti-democratic by urging protesters to respect freedom, democracy, market principles and rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution and to follow the rules when they protest bills and policies? How is urging politicians to refrain from exploiting political strife and to care for low-income families being anti-poor? And how is it anti-reunification when people criticize North Korea’s unfounded claims and urge it to abandon its nuclear weapons and respect human rights?

The claim that Dong-A frequently distorts information or supports the incumbent administration if and when it begins broadcasting is serious defamation. The newspaper has always been rational and has never supported the privileged. Has the Democratic Party forgot that Dong-A took the lead in monitoring abuse of power and corruption under military-led dictatorship while networks like MBC curried favor with those in power?

The real problem is broadcasting. A survey by the Korea Press Foundation shows that the three major terrestrial broadcasters – KBS, MBC and SBS – influence 57 percent of the public opinion market encompassing newspapers, broadcasting and the Internet. The three newspapers account for only 8.2 percent of the market. The market share of the three broadcasters was 81 percent of 44 terrestrial broadcasters as of 2007. Though newspapers are now allowed to offer broadcasting, they can own just 30 percent of comprehensive and news channels. Just like dailies, people make the decisions in broadcasting. It was the Democratic Party that suppressed freedom of speech when it pushed for limiting the market share of newspapers with the legislation of the ridiculous Newspaper Law under the previous administration.

The ruling party and the government are being irresponsible by doing nothing about this. Despite the harsh experience of last year’s protests against U.S. beef imports and the false propaganda of the Democratic Party and leftists, the ruling camp has not yet learned its lesson.