The Korea Herald


Democratic Party determined to bring media reforms

Three bills proposed to be discussed in coming weeks

By Ko Jun-tae

Published : April 29, 2022 - 14:02

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Members of the emergency steering committee of the Democratic Party of Korea are in a meeting held Friday at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul. (Joint Press Corps) Members of the emergency steering committee of the Democratic Party of Korea are in a meeting held Friday at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul. (Joint Press Corps)
The Democratic Party of Korea is pushing to try again in introducing regulatory measures on the press and the media industry, proposing a series of fresh bills this month for formal consideration.

The liberal party on Wednesday submitted three separate bills for review after its legislators decided in a special committee that legislative fixes are needed to fulfill the party’s vision to bring reforms to the press and the media environment after its failed attempt to do so last year.

Rep. Kim Jong-min of the Democratic Party proposed revisions to the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection aimed at providing the right of the public to request the deletion of publicly shared content with erroneous information.

A committee can be installed to manage any disputes that may arise in the process, according to the bill.

The legislative proposal would provide legal rights for the committee levy fines against those who fail to abide by its orders during the dispute.

Another bill proposed by Rep. Kim Eui-kyeom of the liberal party would bar web portals from recommending articles, and stipulates that users will be guaranteed to see only search results while using web portals. The bill also proposes mandating web portals to direct users to articles posted on news outlets’ webpages when they click to read, rather than viewing a copy of the article on the portal site.

Rep. Jung Pil-mo submitted a bill proposing a governance overhaul for public broadcast stations by installing a special 25-member administrative committee to appoint their chief executives.

All 171 legislators with the Democratic Party co-signed the three bills. The Democratic Party alone has power to pass any bill of its choice, as the party effectively controls 57 percent of 300 lawmaker seats at the National Assembly.

The party officially declared it would push for media reforms during a meeting of its legislators earlier this month, vowing to push for passage of related bills within the April provisional assembly. But with the party focusing more on passing bills on prosecution reform, the planned reform push on the press and media industry has been pushed back.

As the April provisional assembly was concluded earlier than scheduled due to the Democratic Party’s strategic move to push for the prosecution reform bill, the three bills on media reform are slated to be discussed in coming weeks for the new provisional assembly of May.

The liberal party is keen on fulfilling its dream of tightening regulations on the media industry after it failed to do so last year. The so-called “fake news” bill was thwarted during the final vote stage in September due to fierce opposition from the opposition bloc and almost all related sectors.

The controversial bill was aimed at imposing greater penalties on journalists and media outlets for creating and spreading “fake news” with “malicious intent,” and it was in bipartisan negotiations for weeks until the liberal party gave up the drive in the face of public outcry.

While the three bills proposed Wednesday are not directly related to what the liberal party pushed then, the bills themselves signify the liberal party’s intent to increase regulation on the media industry, claiming it is in the interest of the public.