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[Editorial] Deregulation of Newspaper Advertising Needed

[Editorial] Deregulation of Newspaper Advertising Needed

Posted September. 19, 2009 10:22,   


Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, said in his book “Losing the News” that 85 percent of fact-based news, including from television and the Internet, come from newspapers. As the book’s subtitle “The Future of News That Feeds Democracy” suggests, he stresses that news (information) revives democracy and print newspapers are the heart of the community.

In a column, Bloomberg News editor Albert R. Hunt warned that the crisis of the U.S. newspaper market will undermine investigative reporting by newspapers, thus leading to the weakening of democratic functions. The public can make “undistorted democratic choices” only if it enjoys its full right to know and has accurate access to information. Newspapers are important to a liberal democracy as they criticize the government, express public opinions, and provide room for debate. That is why advanced economies take measures to support newspapers.

U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin proposed a bill on exempting newspaper companies from taxes on advertising revenues, citing their role as educational public properties. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has also proposed a plan to double government ads in newspapers.

In Korea, however, excessive regulations on newspaper advertising have taken their toll on newspapers, according to Han Sang-pil, a public communication professor at Hanyang University in Seoul. According to his study sponsored by the Korea Association of Newspapers, 418 laws and regulations directly or indirectly govern newspaper ads as of 2005.

The medical services industry is also subject to advertising regulation. Advertising by the legal services industry is even more strictly regulated, having its constitutional right to freedom of expression encroached upon.

Government measures for boosting domestic demand announced Sept. 16 seek drastic deregulation for TV ads, but not for newspaper ads. The measures will allow terrestrial TV broadcasters to run virtual and indirect ads from November. There is no reason for the government to maintain excessive regulation of newspaper ads at a time when it is softening up on TV commercials. Newspaper ads serve as an important source of information and help consumers make informed choices better than than TV commercials. Deregulation will also help promote business activities.

If the Lee Myung-bak administration recognizes the value of the media and newspapers in that protect liberal democracy and market economics, it should drastically deregulate newspaper ads.