Presidential office recommends TV license fees be collected separately

Kang Seung-kyu, senior presidential secretary for civil society, speaks in a press briefing at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul, Monday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The presidential office announced Monday that it recommended that the Korea Communications Commission and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy separate the collection of television license fees by public broadcaster Korea Broadcasting System (KBS).

“Reflecting public complaints and demands for change over the inconvenience of the integrated collecting of license and electricity fees, which has been maintained for the past 30 years, we recommended to revise the relevant laws and regulations for the separate collection [of fees] and prepare follow-up measures,” Kang Seung-kyu, senior presidential secretary for civil society, said in a press briefing.

KBS, a public broadcaster, collects television license fees from Korean citizens who own television connected to a network in their homes.

On March 9, the presidential office proposed an amendment to current laws regarding the collecting of television license fees.

Currently, television license fees for KBS are collected together with electricity bills by the Korea Gas Corporation, a method that began in 1994.

KBS officials in turn expressed concerns regarding the proposal to split the two payments, worrying that it could put public broadcasters in a state of “crisis.”

Public discussions on the license fees were held from March 9 to April 9, according to presidential office.

According to a public survey conducted by the office, about 97 percent of 58,251 voters during this period were in favor of separating television license fees from electricity bills.

“Issues such as broadcasting fairness, content competitiveness and careless management were pointed out in the process of public discourse, and the issue of abolishing license fees was raised the most frequently,” Kang added. “We also recommended preparing measures to establish a public broadcasting status that meets the public’s eye level and fulfills public responsibilities.”

He said the presidential office will convey its recommendations to relevant ministries and continue to communicate to the public about follow-up measures.

Likewise, the Korea Communications Commission is expected to begin steps to revise the Enforcement Decree of the Broadcasting Act in the near future.