South Korean media accuse ruling party of forcing “unconstitutional” anti-fake news bill

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[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL – A bill pushed by President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party to impose greater punitive damages on media companies for malicious false reporting or fake news has sparked a strong backlash from South Korean media, who condemned it as unconstitutional. A campaign has been launched to obtain signatures from journalists.

Six major media organizations have joined in criticizing the ruling Democratic Party (DP) for continuing to revise the media arbitration law to impose punitive damages up to five times the damages claimed to media companies for false information. The DP is about to pass the revision through a plenary session of the National Assembly in August.

The six organizations are the Korea Journalists Association, the Korean Editors Association, the Korean Newspaper Association, the Internet Newspaper Association and the Korea Women Journalists Association and the Kwanhun Club, an association executive journalists.

In a resolution, the media urged the ruling camp to withdraw the bill, stop sending it to the committee and plenary session of the National Assembly, listen to constitutionality scholars and advocate for legislation. They also want Moon as well as candidates from ruling and opposition parties. candidate for a presidential election in March 2022 to vote on the revised bill

An online signature campaign is underway. About 1,800 people have registered by August 11. The bill was adopted by the subcommittee of the National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Sports and Tourism on July 27. The committee held a general meeting on August 10 to discuss the bill for about five hours, but failed to come to a conclusion and adjourned.

The review can impose punitive damages up to five times the amount of damages caused by false reports and contains a clause that sets a lower limit on the amount of compensation at about one thousandth of the sales made by a news organization. . In addition, it should be published in the same quantity and size as the original report when a corrected report is produced. The review allows a complaint to block the reading of Internet articles.

Cases of punitive damages on media reports have not been found in major foreign countries, and constitution scholars believe the amendment violates the constitutional principle of prohibiting excesses, the resolution said. highlighting concerns in particular regarding the imposition of a lower limit on the amount of compensation for damages. .

“It is hard to believe that a democratic government came up with the idea of ​​a democratic government to impose punitive sanctions on the media based on a vague measure of malicious fake news,” the resolution said, blaming the government for having attempted to conduct preliminary inquiries. censorship. The resolution raised concerns that the subject of the trial could abuse the amended law to define critical articles as “malicious reporting.”

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