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KCC to examine streaming services for violation of laws amid fee increases

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Dec. 22, 2023 - 15:55

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Science and ICT Minister Lee Jong-ho speaks at a press conference in Sejong on Monday. (Yonhap) Science and ICT Minister Lee Jong-ho speaks at a press conference in Sejong on Monday. (Yonhap)

The Korea Communications Commission will examine the activities of video streaming platforms in Korea for potential violations of the law, following a series of price hikes in their subscription rates.

The KCC on Thursday announced that the media regulation agency will inspect whether there has been any violation of the Telecommunications Business Act, regarding appropriate announcement of the fee increases and terms of conditions.

"The KCC plans to convert the inspection into an investigation if any violations are found. In the event that violations are confirmed, the KCC intends to take measures in accordance with applicable laws," a KCC official said Thursday.

The inspection comes as a slew of streaming services in Korea raised their subscription rates in November and December.

On Nov. 2, Netflix announced it will restrict password sharing to individuals residing in the same household in Korea. Netflix subscribers who use the account outside the primary household will be mandated to pay an additional monthly charge of 5,000 won ($3.80) to access the account.

Disney+ also started offering two monthly subscription plans -- standard and premium -- priced at 9,000 won and 13,900 won, respectively.

The streamer had only offered a single plan priced at 9,900 won.

On Dec. 8, YouTube raised its monthly subscription fee for YouTube Premium by some 43 percent, from 10,450 won to 14,900 won.

Local streaming service Tving also raised its subscription price by some 20 percent this month.

While the price for Tving's monthly basic plan, which limits the service to only one user, rose by 20.3 percent from 7,900 won to 9,500 won, the standard plan -- offering higher resolution with two people able to use the service at the same time -- rose from 10,900 won to 13,500 won monthly.

The monthly subscription cost for Tving's premium plan, which enables account sharing for four people, increased by 22 percent to 17,000 won.

"It's not easy for the government to compel (big tech companies to adjust their fees)," said Science and ICT Minister Lee Jong-ho in a press conference on Monday.

"It would have been good if the streaming platforms had provided sufficient explanations for the raised fees to help subscribers understand why such measures were inevitable.”