Cable TV operators stopped airing both digital and analog KBS 2 programs Monday after failing to reach an agreement with terrestrial broadcasters over transmission fees.
The stoppage has made it impossible for about 15 million cable TV subscribers across the country to watch programs aired on the commercial channel operated by the state-run broadcaster.
The Korea Cable TV Association (KCTA) said Monday that it suspended the transmission of KBS 2 programs by cable stations as of 3 p.m.
"We held an emergency executive meeting Monday morning and decided to cease airing KBS 2 programs at 3 p.m"., KCTA secretary general Choi Jong-sam said. "Our subscribers will be double-burdened if cable TV operators are forced to pay fees for retransmitting terrestrial programs produced by KBS, which collects 2,500 won ($2.17) in monthly license fees from each household".
They targeted KBS 2 because it also runs advertisements, while KBS 1 does not.
Choi indicated the association will decide whether to halt the transmission of MBC and SBS programs depending on the course of future negotiations.
"We organized a petition that garnered the support of 850,000 people. We delivered their signatures to the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and asked it to accept our demands", the secretary general said. "When we gather 1 million signatures, we will file a petition with the National Assembly to have it revise the relevant laws so that cable stations can air terrestrial programs without paying fees".
The unprecedented move came two months after cable operators stopped the retransmission of high definition (HD) programs of all three terrestrial broadcasters, forcing their subscribers to watch KBS, MBC and SBS programs only through standard definition (SD) channels.
The stoppage designed to force broadcasters to accept their demands lasted for eight days.
"We had no choice but to suspend the airing of KBS 2 programs in both HD and SD on cable channels as broadcasters refuse to strike a deal with us over transmission fees. Even if we are sanctioned by the communications regulator, we will continue to halt the retransmission", Choi said.
Terrestrial broadcasters and cable TV stations have negotiated how much the latter should pay the former for airing public channel programs. Broadcasters insisted that cable operators pay 280 won in fees for each subscriber, stressing that cable operators should pay for the airing of their programs.
But cable stations are only willing to offer 100 won as commissions, saying they should be able to transmit terrestrial shows free of charge as the retransmission helps broadcasters reach a broader audience and boosts their advertising revenue.
In response to the latest broadcasting suspension, the KCC has taken steps to penalize cable TV operators. "Under the Broadcasting Law, cable TV stations cannot stop airing programs without justifiable reasons. A directive forcing cable stations to resume the retransmission of terrestrial programs has already been issued. If they do not abide by it, we will suspend their business licenses and take other punitive measures".
By Lee Hyo-sik
Source : www.koreatimes.co.kr/...
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