S. Korean court rules media laws against major dailies unconstitutional

Posted on : 2006-06-29 14:39 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled in favor of major newspaper companies and said governing party-initiated media laws aimed at curbing their market dominance run counter to the country's constitution.

The court supported a petition from the country's major dailies that said the Newspaper Law and the Press Arbitration Law are in violation of freedom of the press, as certain clauses may control their editorial tones or interfere with their management rights.

The two controversial bills were initiated by the ruling Uri Party to reflect calls by civic organizations for more space for minor media chains in the Korean newspaper market, which is dominated by a few heavyweights. The bills passed by the National Assembly in January will take effect on July 28. The Chosun Ilbo and the Dong-a Ilbo -- two of the country's major dailies along with the JoongAng Ilbo -- filed the petition last year. The Seoul Central District Court referred the case to the Constitutional Court for a vote on the legality of the laws by its nine judges.

The Newspaper Law limits the market share of the three largest dailies to 60 percent. It also requires them to release information about their circulation and advertisement income. The Press Arbitration Law strengthened individuals' rights to ask the media to run corrections by ensuring that they can make such requests regardless of whether the incorrect reporting was on purpose or by mistake.

Chosun, JoongAng and Dong-a command a combined market share of 70 to 75 percent, according to research by the Korea Press Foundation, a public body that promotes the media market.

The ruling is expected to deal another blow to the reform drive of the administration of President Roh Moo-hyun following the governing party's crushing defeat in local elections in May. Seoul, June 29 (Yonhap News)

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