SEOUL, Jun. 23 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean lawmakers have proposed a bill to require TV networks to dedicate more airtime to programs representing disabled members of society.
Criticism over the lack of representation of the disabled on South Korean TV has prompted a number of politicians including Kang Hyo-sang, a member of the Liberty Korea Party, to push for a bill that will see both South Korean broadcast and cable networks allot over 5 percent of their airtime to programs catering to the disabled.
“TV networks are obliged to raise awareness of and represent marginalized members of society. Since the current broadcast law only requires that broadcasters provide subtitles and sign language translation, we have decided to propose a reform,” said Kang, who spearheaded the reform as a representative at the National Assembly.
According to information from the Korea Communications Commission gathered by Kang’s office, programs for the disabled aired on major South Korean TV networks including KBS, MBC and SBS during 2016 and the first two months of 2017 accounted for less than one percent of all content, with some cable networks having no TV shows targeting the disabled as part of their regular programming.
Experts say that for TV networks to refuse to create and fund TV programs for marginalized members of society due to low ratings is a breach of current broadcasting laws.
In the U.K., the internationally recognized TV network BBC has been implementing a quota for appearances of disabled people as part of its Disability Equality Scheme.
Under the scheme, a drama series is required to portray at least one handicapped character, while factual and leisure programs on both BBC 1 and BBC 2 are required to invite a minimum of one disabled person as a member of the panel.
The spokesperson for lawmaker Kang’s office said, “If we pressure TV networks to create and air programs for disabled people, we’ll be able to effectively pursue the purpose of serving public interest.”
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)