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(LEAD) Court grants Ahn's request to stop TV debate between Lee, Yoon

Politics 14:51 January 26, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with court comments in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- A court on Wednesday ruled in favor of minor party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo in a lawsuit he filed to stop TV stations from hosting a televised debate exclusively between the top two mainstream rivals.

The Seoul Western District Court said the country's three major broadcasters -- MBC, KBS and SBS -- should not exclude Ahn of the People's Party from their TV debate for presidential candidates.

The ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition People Power Party have been in talks with the broadcasters to set up a TV debate exclusively between their presidential candidates, Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol, respectively, on either Sunday or Monday.

Ahn, who is running a distant third in public opinion polls after Lee and Yoon, filed for the injunction last week, claiming that such a two-way debate without him would be unfair and monopolistic.

This image, provided by the National Assembly Press Corps, shows Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party at a campaign event in Seoul on Jan. 26, 2022. (Yonhap)

The election law does not specify how broadcasters should select candidates for TV debates, but given the powerful influence of such debates, the leeway broadcasters have in deciding candidates should be limited, the court said.

"The broadcasters in this case stepped out of the limit at their discretion, as it is difficult to accept their justification (for excluding Ahn)," the court said.


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