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Public opinion nearly split on ruling party's controversial media bill: poll

Entertainment 16:11 September 02, 2021

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- Public opinion on the ruling party's push to pass a media bill centered on imposing punitive damages on outlets reporting misinformation or fake news was almost evenly divided, a poll showed Thursday.

The Democratic Party, which holds a majority of seats at the 300-seat parliament, has been pushing for amendments to the Press Arbitration Act that would require an up to fivefold increase in penalties for media outlets spreading false or fraudulent news reports.

Amid fierce protest from opposition parties and media industry groups, the bill has been put on hold from voting until later this month, while rival parties will continue discussions via an ad hoc consultative body to be joined by media specialists.

In the survey conducted jointly by four polling agencies on 1,012 people over the age of 18 from Monday to Wednesday, 46 percent predicted that the bill will have a large negative effect by restricting the autonomy and editorial rights of the media.

In the poll by Embrain Public, Kstat Research, Korea Research International and Hankook Research, a slightly smaller proportion of 43 percent said the bill will have a positive effect by suppressing false reporting and improving the overall media credibility.

The remaining 11 percent said they do not know how the bill will play out or refused to answer.

In terms of party support and political leanings, 75 percent of DP supporters and 65 percent of self-identifying liberals said they were in support of the bill, while 77 percent of backers of the main opposition People Power Party and 69 percent of conservatives were against it.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level.

Lawmakers of the main opposition People Power Party shout slogans during a rally at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 30, 2021, to call for the ruling Democratic Party to stop the enactment of a controversial media bill fiercely contested by opposition parties and media industry trade groups. The ruling party had pushed ahead with a plan to put to a final vote at a plenary session of parliament the revision of the Act on Press Arbitration and Remedies, Etc. for Damage Caused by Press Reports, which critics say will threaten people's right to know and discourage the press' checks on power. (Yonhap)

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