KOREA: More autonomy for print media planned

New president Lee Myung-bak promises a "press-friendly policy," allowing cross-media ownership, in revision of current print media laws

The Korea Times
Friday, April 4, 2008

By Kang Hyun-kyung

President Lee Myung-bak pledged to support the revision of related laws governing the management and operation of print media, Friday.

In a speech to mark the 52nd Newspaper Day, Lee said he would help print media and broadcasting firms effectively cope with the ever-changing media environment by implementing a "press-friendly policy."

His remarks were construed as the government's plan to seek alternative legislation to replace the current Newspaper Law in an effort to give press companies more autonomy than before.

The now-defunct presidential transition team promised in January that the Lee government would allow print media to own broadcasters and vice versa.

Under the current law, print media are prohibited from having shares of broadcasters, and newspapers and broadcasting companies are not allowed to encroach upon each other's turf.

"I understand that several local print media firms faced formidable business challenges as there were significant changes in the media industry (in a short timeframe over the past decade)," said the President.

He was referring to the distinctive trend in the global media industry reflecting that the line between print media and broadcasting companies has blurred since the 1990s mainly due to technology development.

Factors such as diversification of the media and the emergence of alternative information sources are posing a threat to local newspapers.

Lee acknowledged the role and functions of newspapers over the past decades in society and said his government plans to help the media get through the challenges.

The President said the public has the right to know what's going on in the government through the media.