The National Assembly failed to approve President Park Geun-hye’s government overhaul plan as rival parties disagreed over the new science and technology ministry’s authority over broadcasters.
Despite the tentative agreement that the Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party reached on the Government Organization Act on Sunday, clauses regarding cable system operators, or SOs, proved to be the main sticking point.
Under the agreement drawn up by the leaders of the two parties, all broadcasting-related issues will be handed over the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science. However, the ministry will require the agreement of the Korea Communications Commission when issuing or renewing licenses for system operators, satellite television service providers and other related businesses. Matters regarding broadcast news will, however, continue to be controlled by the KCC.
As a measure to maintain the integrity of the broadcast media, the parties agreed to establish a special parliamentary committee on fairness of broadcasts to run for six months and prepare any necessary revisions to relevant laws.
For the bill to pass, each parliamentary committee needs to approve issues coming under their remit.
Members of the Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, however, failed to agree on issues regarding SOs.
DUP lawmakers on the Broadcasting Committee argue that the KCC should be given authority over cases regarding license type changes, while the Saenuri Party lawmakers have called for the issue to be transferred to the Science Ministry.
“Giving the Future Ministry the power to approve terrestrial broadcasts is a reversal of the agreement,” Rep. Jun Byung-hun of the DUP said, saying that the two sides had agreed to give the Science Ministry authority over telecommunication frequencies, and the KCC authority over broadcasting frequencies.
“The Broadcasting Committee processes the clauses as agreed by the leadership of the ruling and opposition parties, it does not have the right to interpret or make additions or deletions,” Rep. Nam Kyung-pil of the Saenuri Party said. He went on to say that the committee needed to process the agreement as drawn up by the parties, and as the issue of approving changes was not included in the agreement, giving the KCC authority over such an issue was beyond the committee’s powers.
The two parties had negotiated the changes proposed by President Park Geun-hye for 47 days, setting the new precedent of a new president taking office without receiving parliamentary approval for government restructuring plans.
In the talks the DUP resisted the plans saying that the Science Ministry having authority over broadcasting issues would damage the integrity of the country’s broadcast media.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com