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Rival parties tentatively agree to process controversial media bill next month

All News 12:15 August 31, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- Rival parties on Tuesday tentatively agreed to process a controversial media reform bill led by the ruling party in a plenary parliamentary session next month, party officials said.

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, made the consensus during a meeting earlier in the day to table the bill in a plenary parliamentary session set for Sept. 27.

The bill, championed by the DP, is designed to impose a fivefold increase in penalties on media outlets that make false or fabricated news reports, prompting heated criticism from opposition parties and media industry groups that it is intended to gag critical media in the run-up to next year's presidential election.

The DP initially planned to push the bill, based on its absolute parliamentary majority, through a plenary voting session this month, but shied away from taking action out of concerns it could stir public backlash ahead of the election and the PPP's threat to block its passage via a filibuster.

Under the agreement, the parties will establish an eight-person consultative group composed of lawmakers and journalists to review the bill before it is put to a vote, according to the officials.

The floor leaders plan to make the agreement official in another meeting in the afternoon after getting the endorsement from the members of their respective parties.

The rival parties also agreed to hold a plenary session later in the day to process other key pending bills, including those on blocking Google's upcoming policy to enforce the exclusive use of its in-app payment system and mandating the installation of surveillance cameras inside hospital rooms.

Reps. Kim Gi-hyeon (L, front) and Yun Ho-jung (R, front), floor leaders of the People Power Party and the Democratic Party, respectively, speak to reporters following a meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

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