Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Media "Big Bang" in South Korea?

As noted by an article in the Joongang Daily, it is the dawn of a new year, and with it hopes for a new era in Korea's media industry, what some are referring to as a "Media Big Bang."  On the last day of 2010, the government announced the selection of local media companies that would be allowed to operate both newspaper and broadcasting businesses for the first time in 30 years.  The so-called "Media Big Bang" is expected to involve not only traditional media, but also online and mobile businesses.
The biggest impact may be on the five companies that won the new broadcasting rights, as shown in the accompanying graphic (click to see a larger version).  There are concerns that the broadcasting sector will become overcrowded with the entry of the new competitors because the amount of advertising revenue is not seen as large enough to support all of them. However, analysts say the move is necessary to promote increased competition in a sector that has been dominated by the three terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS. The Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI) said in a recent report that restricting the number of television broadcasters damaged political pluralism, referring to the fact that newspapers were banned from owning television stations in 1980 as the then-military government sought to impose greater control over the media and public opinion. “An excessive restriction on media ownership may weaken the quality of media content,” it added.

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