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Rival parties to continue last-minute negotiations for 2nd day on controversial media bill

Sept. 28, 2021 - 10:39 By Yonhap
This image distributed by the National Assembly press corps shows Reps. Kim Gi-hyeon (L) and Yun Ho-jung (R), floor leaders of the People Power Party and Democratic Party, respectively, greeting each other during a meeting chaired by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug on Monday. (National Assembly Pess Corps)
Rival parties will continue their negotiations Tuesday to find a negotiated solution to a controversial media bill under criticism for potentially undermining press freedom.

Reps. Yun Ho-jung and Kim Gi-hyeon, floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), respectively, will sit down for a meeting chaired by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug later in the morning to negotiate the ruling party-proposed amendment to the media arbitration act.

The bill centered on strengthening punitive damages against fake news has been under bipartisan negotiations for nearly a month after the DP stepped back from its initial plan to advance it through a plenary parliamentary meeting in late August facing strong backlash from opposition parties and media industry groups.

As a number of contentious issues remained unresolved by the Monday deadline set last month by the rival parties for putting the bill to a full-floor vote, however, the parties decided to reschedule the plenary voting session to Tuesday afternoon.

According to officials of the two parties, they have come so far as to narrow their differences on the most contentious issue of enforcing punitive damages up to five times the normal amount on media outlets found guilty of disinformation.

The parties were reportedly considering removing the term dictating the fivefold increase in favor of alternative measures enforcing aggravated penalties against fake news.

The bipartisan talks, however, hit a sticking point over the right of fake news victims to demand the removal of relevant media reports, granted in the bill, with the PPP insisting the complete elimination of the term, party officials said.

The issue of whether to give the right to demand corrections of media outlets has also remained a point of fierce bipartisan contention, they added.

The DP is expected to decide the fate of the contentious bill, including if it will unilaterally push it through a plenary vote in the afternoon, depending on whether the bipartisan talks reach a deal. The party currently controls 169 seats of the unicameral 300-member parliament. (Yonhap)