Ruling party members of the Parliamentary Committee on Legislation and Judiciary review a proposed revision to the law on press arbitration and remedies at the National Assembly in Seoul on Wednesday, while seats vacated by protesting opposition party members remain empty. (Yonhap)
A controversial bill on curbing fake news passed the last parliamentary hurdle Wednesday to be put to a final plenary vote at the National Assembly amid heated protests from opposition parties and journalists' associations.
The bill to revise the Act on Press Arbitration and Remedies, Etc. for Damage Caused by Press Reports received the green light from the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, the final gatekeeping committee for all bills before they go on a final vote at a parliamentary plenary session.
The ruling-party controlled judiciary committee passed the bill after committee members of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) walked out of its session in protest.
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) had unilaterally pushed the bill through the Parliamentary Committee on Culture, Sports and Tourism on Aug. 19.
The ruling party, which also commands the majority of the broader National Assembly, plans to push the bill through a parliamentary plenary session set for later in the day.
Spearheaded by the DP as part of its broader vision to "reform" the media, the legislation aims to sharply increase the media's responsibility for false and fake news.
The revision proposal primarily aims to multiply the level of punitive compensation rates for damage from the release of "deliberate" or "grossly negligent" false news reports by up to fivefold in a bid to curb the dissemination of misleading news.
It will also require media outlets responsible for such news to publish corrections or eliminate problematic reports from news services.
The bill, however, has evoked strong criticism from opposition parties and media organizations as an attempt to gag media outlets critical of the government and the ruling party ahead of next year's presidential election.
More than a dozen lawmakers of the main opposition party had staged a protest in front of the meeting room of the legislative committee, attempting in vain to block the bill's passage.
"The media-gagging law is a malicious attempt to decimate the media," PPP floor leader Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon said at the head of the protest. He vowed to fight "to the end" to block the bill's final passage. (Yonhap)