Hell's Kitchen
Hell's Kitchen
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  • 승인 2007.11.29 15:39
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By Chun Go-eun


How much does it make sense that Koreans now can watch TV with their mobile phones in a bathroom but not with their computer in a bedroom Unfortunately, the only thing that hasn't changed much in Korean IT history is the TV with its traditional antennas, cable boxes, and satellite dishes. How difficult is it to plug an internet line into the living room TV When would be the day television content is delivered by broadband internet lines and a set-top box Although the procedure itself seems quite simple and all ingredients are ready to be cooked, the pride-spawned arguments at the kitchen stove have been a never-ending story. The IPTV Act was scheduled to be appealed at a regular session of the National Assembly on November 23 and was anticipated to pass, but it is now the Trap of Aliens that put off the decision once again. Now the bill has to wait again until the end of the year to be presented at an extra session of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly Broadcast Communication Specialized Committee held an overall meeting on November 20 and passed Internet Multimedia Broadcast Business Act, which can't possibly be completed with restrictions on IPTV. Thus, the IPTV Act was expected to be passed at the actual meeting on 23. But the problem begins at measure 9 of the Internet Multimedia Broadcast Business Act passed on November 20, which read, "Regarding to policy for alien possession quota, it can be allowed up to 49% of the entire stock that has voting rights." Here the alien refers to KT. KT's overall alien quota is 47%, but the number increases up to 63% once its own stock is disqualified from voting rights. Moreover, an alien cannot be the country's IPTV business runner according to a regulation. The Broadcast Commission spokesman said, "You can't restrict the genuine business runner from running a business. The measure will be fixed before passing a law."

Cable TV operators and Broadcasters, however, are strongly against the Broadcast Committee's decision, asserting that the committee is trying to give privilege to KT. According to their assertion, the meeting was held unofficially in a blink of an eye and two of the committee members proposed that the IPTV Act is more beneficial for telecommunication operators than it is for broadcasters. Another factor Cable TV feels is unfair is that while one fifth of the 77 cable areas are restricted for Digital Cable TVs, which is similar to IPTV, IPTV service has no restriction throughout the entire state. Broadcasters predict that it will give more advantage to marketing power and the size of the economy.

KT in fact launched its IPTV service for the first time in Korea in 2004 with a brand Homen on a limited scale. Homen eventually developed into Mega TV in 2006 and the subscribers are now reaching up to be 6,500,000. In spite of its high density image quality and fast speed with a reasonable place, subscribers' only complaint is that the shows are reruns that are two weeks old at least. It is the same for its rivalry company, Hanaro.

Hanaro started its IPTV service a year after and chased after KT in a fast speed. Park Byung-moo, the CEO of Hanaro, once mentioned at a press conference, "IT took France Telecom three years to acquire 500,000 IPTV subscribers while it took two years for PCCW of Hong Kong. But it only took less than a year for Hana TV to attract 500,000 subscribers. Hana TV is growing at an unprecedented pace, and is ready to provide Korea with the real IPTV service." Both are offered to subscribers for an affordable price, high definition image, and fast speed, yet unresolved restriction on IPTV for the past two years had been blowing the real time shows down. Since there were no specific laws dealing with a format for broadcasting, the government hasn't allowed IPTV services to provide real-time broadcasting in order to prevent protests from traditional broadcasters. As a result, IPTV services have a 12-hour delay in broadcasting local dramas and they don't have live news and sports programs.

Two year battle between the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) and the Korea Broadcasting Commission (KBC) are still at the frontier. While the MIC tries to lift the ban on real time broadcasting, KBC has been strictly against the ministry's drive.

Both broadcasters and telecommunication operators may feel they have a lot to lose once the IPTV Act passes, but the country has a lot to gain. IPTV is another growth engine Korea found in six years. Korea's high broadband penetration is the perfect environment for IPTV to succeed. As Professor Choi Jun-kyun of Information and Communication University said, "Korean Broadband convergence Network [BcN] is from our highly competitive communication network. Those industries and solution companies who survive in the domestic market are more likely to be competitive in the global market.

Also, since the standardization of WiBro and the penetration of DMB are on top of the world, penetration of IPTV will serve as the next growth engine to encourage our IT market."

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