South Korean Government To Ease Regulations on TV Advertisement

D-bo, April 24, 2015, 8:20 a.m.

The government said Friday it will ease regulations on major television networks' advertising time to help boost the struggling TV advertising market in fair competition with paid TV services under less strict rules.  The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) approved a revised broadcasting bill that would scrap the currently strict rules on commercials for terrestrial broadcasting stations.

The bill limits the nation's broadcasting watchdog to regulate only the total amount of commercial time for the terrestrial stations.  Currently, the government regulates the amount of time and the type of commercials that major broadcasters such as KBC, MBC and SBS can show between TV programs and station breaks.

Under the new rules, those networks can freely choose the time and type of commercials they want to show within the limitation of 18 percent of the total time for a program.  The relaxed regulation is currently being applied only to cable TV networks.

Both terrestrial and cable networks can use the computer graphic-based "virtual advertising" method for entertainment and sports news programs, too. Presently, virtual advertising is only allowed for sports broadcasts.

For cable networks, the total amount of time allowed for virtual and indirect advertising will slightly increase. The revised enforcement ordinance to the broadcasting law is expected to come into force in July at the earliest, as it does not require parliamentary approval.

The approval instantly prompted criticism from a newspaper organization that fears that the deregulation for television networks would deal a blow to the print media. "The new rules will narrow the already fail position of newspapers by making terrestrial broadcasters dominate the advertising market," the Korean Association of Newspapers, an industry group, said in a statement. "This might develop into a problem of right and wrong if the government takes things from the have-nots and gives them to the haves."

Lee Ki-joo, a standing member of the KCC, however, refuted the argument, saying that the new measures will eventually help revitalize the TV ad market. "In the short run, the deregulation can cause problems," he told Yonhap News Agency. "But the impact might not be that great. I foresee it having a positive influence to other media by contributing to the recovery of domestic consumption," he said.

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