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Legislations for Online Video Self-Rating in Korea


Below is an update on the proposed amendments to the Promotion of the Motion Pictures and Video Products Act (the “MPVA”) relating to establishing a self-rating system for online video products.

Current Rating System and Need for Improvement

Under the current MPVA, “video products” must be rated by the Korea Media Rating Board (the “KMRB”) before being supplied, with a few exceptions (e.g., video products provided for free to the general public over the Internet).  For instance, paid video products provided through OTT services are covered by the KMRB rating requirement.  However, with the massive increase in the supply of online video products over the past few years, the KMRB rating process has been subject to substantial delays.  In response, various businesses, particularly from the OTT services segment, have suggested that a self-rating system for video products is necessary, similar to the system already implemented for games.

Proposed Amendments

In May 2021, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (the “MCST”) made a proposal for a video products self-rating system (the “MCST Proposal”).  However, the MCST Proposal created a new definition of “online video service providers” for OTT services and subjected them to separate licensing requirements, which was met with strong opposition from the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Communications Commission. The MCST Proposal has since stalled without making substantial progress.

After lengthy negotiations with the relevant ministries, the MCST advanced a new proposed amendment through National Assembly Member Sangheon Lee of the Democratic Party (the “Lee Proposal”).  The Lee Proposal removes the contested provisions defining OTT services as “online video service providers” and requiring separate licenses. Separately, National Assembly Member Jeung Park of the Democratic Party advanced a proposal (the “Park Proposal”).  The primary difference between the two proposals is that the Lee Proposal sets forth procedures for the MCST to designate businesses as selfrating services if they fulfill certain requirements, while the Park Proposal only requires that businesses report to the MCST to act as self-rating services.

Next Steps for Legislation

In light of the upcoming political events such as the June local elections, it appears unlikely that the National Assembly will complete its discussions on these proposals by the first half of 2022. Nevertheless, we expect the bill to pass within the year, as domestic OTT services have been strongly pushing for a self-rating system and the MCST has indicated its willingness to pass the bill promptly (but note that the effective date will be six months after promulgation).

The National Assembly discussions will likely focus on the Lee Proposal which reflects the negotiations between the relevant ministries, and businesses will need to be designated by MCST as self-rating services if the Lee Proposal is passed.