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Keeping KBS credible

  PLAY AUDIO

Dec 16,2009
The public remains concerned about the leadership of new KBS President Kim In-kyu. He and his employees should know that better than anyone.

Kim worked for President Lee Myung-bak during his 2007 presidential election campaign, and thus cannot be free of the charge that he is friendly with the government. The same was true of Kim’s predecessor Jung Yun-joo.

Although the KBS labor union’s plan to strike to protest Kim’s appointment never materialized, there is still discord at KBS. But if you’re looking for the reason, you don’t have to go far for the answers: They’re all in Kim’s words.

At his inauguration last month, Kim said he would build a legitimate public broadcasting company. He also said he would not produce shows that cater to the government and that he assumed his post not to dominate KBS, but to protect it from the powers that be.

A few days ago, citing NHK’s in-depth reporting as an example, Kim talked about the possibility that the main anchor, not the reporters, would deliver the items in prime-time newscasts. Some program reshuffling is scheduled for early next year, and the focus will be on creating programs that are politically impartial.

If Kim realizes his goals, then KBS will truly be reborn and will become a legitimate public broadcaster. That will broaden their viewership as well as increase the number of people willing pay for subscription fees.

The owner of KBS is without a doubt the public. It must never have any political leanings and its reporting must be fair and accurate. As the BBC and NHK do, KBS must set an example for other broadcasters in the nation.

In reality, however, KBS was busy inciting the crowds during the candlelight vigils held to protest resumption of U.S. beef imports last year, and has frequently been panned for using foul language and outrageous story lines in its shows. And it was only a short while ago that the staff of one KBS show was sacked over the controversial “loser” statement made on the show.

While things had improved under Kim’s predecessor Lee Byung-soon, the reckless management style that seems to prevail at KBS still leaves a lot to be desired.

We hope that KBS will live up to Kim’s pledges and be restored as a top-notch public broadcasting company. It’s about time we had a public station that we can be proud of. The broadcaster’s ability to secure the finances for the switch to digital broadcasting - scheduled for late 2012 - and increase their subscription fees is entirely dependent upon how the audience assesses KBS’s efforts to stay public.



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