Parties Collide Head-On over Media Control, Campaign Funds

Article excerpt

Amid booing interspersed with jeering, a fierce battle has continued unabated between the ruling and opposition parties over media control documents and the illegal campaign financing scandal on the parliamentary floor.

In an interpellation session on social and cultural issues, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), its coalition partner, the United Liberal Democrats (ULD) and the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) yesterday collided head-on over the media control documents, the spy agency's illegal financing of election campaigns and the National Security Law (NSL).

Alleging that the leaked documents from the ruling party proves the ruling camp's apparent scheme to tame the press, GNP lawmakers demanded an immediate halt to the large-scale tax audits of media outlets.

Reps. Shin Kyung-shik and Kim Jung-sook of the GNP said in unison that the ruling camp should drop its premeditated plan to muzzle a few major newspapers that are highly critical of the government, emphasizing that a parliamentary probe into the ruling party's media control scheme will bring light to the truth behind its sinister plot to oppress the parts of the media that are hostile to government.

Rep. Kim Hong-shin of the same party echoed their view, saying that the results of the ongoing tax probe should be made public if the government wishes to allay the mounting public doubts about the investigation's ulterior motives.

To such calls, Rep. Sul Hoon of the ruling MDP countered that the opposition should stop exploiting unfounded documents for political purposes, saying that the public thinks it is a matter of course that the government is conducting a legal tax probe into newspapers and broadcast companies.

``No company is immune from tax audits. Unlike past governments,

the ongoing tax probe is not aimed at taming the press,'' Sol said, stressing that it is necessary to revise the existing publication registration law to ensure separation of ownership and management in the media, which would guarantee editorial independence from abusive media owners. …