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TV license fee increases to 3,500 won per month

The state media regulator, Korea Communications Commission, on Friday approved public broadcaster KBS’s request to increase the monthly viewing fee by 40 percent to 3,500 won ($3).

The decision was made during its general meeting from which two of the five commissioners walked out in protest.

Households with television sets are all currently obliged to pay a fixed fee of 2,500 won under the Broadcast Law.

The commission’s proposal will be sent to the National Assembly for further review.

“The KCC came to a conclusion that the original proposal of KBS should be practiced for it to become the first step to normalize the financial operations at KBS,” said Kim Jun-sang, director-general of broadcasting policy bureau at the commission.

“We agreed to increase the viewing fee by 1,000 won but have the increased fee spent on practicing responsibility as the public broadcaster and for the station to rely less on commercials.”

The commission also said that an additional increase would be discussed again in 2014.

Earlier in November last year, the board of directors at KBS unanimously decided to raise the monthly viewing fee to 3,500 won from 2,500 won, claiming it was a move taken for the first time in the past 30 years.

Kim In-kyu, CEO of the Korea Broadcasting System, also known as KBS, said most of the revenue from the fee hike will be spent on revamping networks and its high-definition infrastructure in a bid to provide digital TV services and improve its content.

All analog services are scheduled to be terminated by 2012.

“We’re expecting that it will cost us more than 500 billion won to make preparation measures to go digital by the end of next year,” he told KCC commissioners during its meeting held earlier on Thursday. “However, we can’t bear this with our current source of income.”

Last June, KBS initially proposed two plans involving the viewing fee hike ― increasing it to 6,500 won per month and not taking any advertisements, and increasing it to 4,600 per month and relying less on advertisements.

The board of directors at KBS, however, came to an agreement to increase it to 3,500 won per month following five-month long discussions.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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