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Constitutional Court dismisses petition against separating collection of public broadcaster fees

By Yonhap

Published : May 30, 2024 - 21:01

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KBS public broadcasting station located at Yeoeuido (KBS) KBS public broadcasting station located at Yeoeuido (KBS)

The Constitutional Court on Thursday dismissed a petition against a government revision separating the collection of public broadcasters' license fees, citing it does not violate their broadcasting rights.

Last July, the Korean Broadcasting System filed the petition against a revised enforcement ordinance to the Broadcasting Act requiring it to collect license fees separately from electricity bills. KBS argued it would threaten the financial stability of public broadcasters.

Since 1994, KBS has charged a monthly fee of 2,500 won ($1.82) to every household with a television receiver, and the fee has been embedded in the monthly electricity invoice to ensure all households pay the fee.

The court rejected the petition in a 6-3 ruling, with the majority opinion saying that the revision does not violate the freedom of broadcasting operations.

"Considering that fee notices and payment methods have been diversified with the development of information and communications technology, it cannot be concluded that this clause will soon lead to financial losses to the petitioner," the court said.

However, the court acknowledged concerns over the independence of public broadcasters if the share of income from those other than license fees increase. It noted the legislature should make considerations to increase the fees if there isn't an adequate amount.

KBS said it accepts the court's decision, while its major labor union criticized the decision, claiming it goes against the wishes of civil society to maintain public broadcasting.

The labor union at EBS, another public broadcaster specialized in education programs, also slammed the decision, calling it an attack by the current administration against public broadcasting. (Yonhap)