Changes to media ownership laws have been proposed by the Korea Communications Commission according to a Variety article on 3 September.
Korean President Lee Myung-bak has followed this up with a statement that indicates the government’s desire to have a globally competitive media player with the scale to make an impact in international markets.
The government should create an environment to enable the advent of a world-class media firm with global competitiveness by drastically loosening the string of regulations on the broadcasting and communications sector.
From the KCC report, the government’s strategy to achieve this appears to be not through lifting foreign investment limits but by loosening cross-media ownership laws.
The stringent regulations on ownership and multiple ownership prohibit the broadcasting sector from expanding through new investments and mergers and acquisitions”
New media environments have challenged the legitimacy of incumbent cross-media ownership laws, but one does have to wonder if the way to a more globally competitive media conglomerate would not be best achieved by relaxing foreign investment restrictions, no matter how unpalatable that may be.
In other words, despite ideological resistance in Korea to opening up the media industry to foreign players, this may provide an avenue of providing greater diversity in the Korean media while not restricting plurality and freedom of speech. This is particularly the case in Korea where censorship law are stricter than in many other democracies, and a further concentration of power in the media – and big business groups in general – is precisely what successive administrations have been fighting to reform.