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Ending the media war

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July 22,2009
Broadcasting companies including MBC and SBS began a general strike at 6 a.m. yesterday in protest against the planned revision of the laws governing the media industry. The National Union of Media Workers, which initiated the action, said it would continue the strike until the “evil bills” are scrapped.

We want to ask the strike participants to consider whether their opposition to the media reform bills is enough to justify the walkout. Even if we concede that the illegal strike should be seen as the action by a labor union, their argument is not persuasive.

They claim the media law revisions will “blind and deafen the people.” But what grounds do they have for such an argument? They claim that conglomerates and newspaper companies’ entry into the broadcasting industry will decrease the diversity of public opinion. But their groundless argument has even been denied by statistical studies.

According to a recent study by Seoul National University Professor Yoon Seok-min’s team, the country’s three ground-wave broadcasting companies dominate 69 percent of public opinion. The study shows that the broadcasters’ concerns about fairness will actually only hurt themselves.

There are even some inside MBC, a major participant in the strike, who are critical about the issue of fairness in their reporting. And MBC is not alone. The public will not tolerate groundless strikes. And the striking media workers will only be criticized for siding with politicians in order to protect what was gained during the previous administration.

The National Union of Media Workers must not deceive the public as if they are representing the entire media industry in their protest. They have the participation of only a few broadcasters. Most broadcasters, with the exception of MBC, are against the strike.

Major newspapers - including the Joong-Ang Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo, Maeil Business Newspaper and Korea Economic Daily - are not even members of the media union. Rather than deceiving the public under the banner of democracy and freedom of the press, the union must instead come clean and declare itself a political group against the Lee Myung-bak administration.

A group of 200 broadcasting industry figures issued a statement yesterday in support of the efforts to revise the media laws. Guaranteeing diversity in the media is an indispensable precondition to a free democracy, they said. The laws governing the media must never be held hostage by political infighting.

The illegal protesters must be persuaded before they take to the streets to rally.



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