KOREA: TV viewing hours for adult programs in dispute

The Ministry of Health and Welfare wants to decrease adult program hours while the Korea Communications Commission wants to increase them

The Korea Times
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By Kim Tong-hyung

The extent of regulations on television programs for adults is setting government agencies against each other.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is extending the curfew for non-adult programs only, while broadcasters, backed by the Korea Communications Commission, are pressing for more viewing hours.

Currently, networks are prohibited from airing adult programs from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. This current airtime is under fire for exposing children to mature content, and negotiations between the two sides are underway for changing viewing hours.

At the moment, the ministry's effort to push the curfew until midnight has been stalling for months, with KCC supporting the networks' assertion that an extended curfew would hurt their bottom line.

"We believe that extending hours until midnight will hurt the television and advertisement industry," said an official from the KCC's broadcasting policy bureau.

"New digital broadcasting services are allowing parents stronger tools to block offensive content, so there is no urgent need to further reduce the air time of adult programs," he said.

However, the ministry contends by pointing out that more than 70 percent of the viewers own analog televisions with no blocking devices installed, while an increasing number of teenagers watch television well into the night.

The KCC said it can accept a proposal for a one hour curfew extension in the morning hour, but objects to an extension for late-time television.

With the two failing to reach an agreement, the ball is now sent to the Prime Minister's Office, which is now forced to decide whose arm to raise.