[EDITORIALS]3 Cheers for Election Commission

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[EDITORIALS]3 Cheers for Election Commission

The National Election Commission sent a letter last week to all broadcasting companies asking for their cooperation in holding fair elections. Two public broadcasting companies - Korea Broadcasting System and the Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. - received a specific request from the commission asking that they never let the Millennium Democratic Party's candidates for by-elections appear on their programs again. Allowing candidates to appear, the letter suggested, would likely bring about suspicion that the companies were helping the candidates with illegal electioneering and raise fairness questions.

It is the job of the Election Broadcasting Review Commission, which is temporarily set up only for regular elections, to decide, according to related laws, if a broadcasting company is not fair in its election broadcasting. However, the review commission is not set up for these by-elections. So it is highly likely that broadcasting programs can be used for illegal electioneering more easily this time than in the regular elections.

That is why we think it was a proper measure for the commission to remind broadcasting firms to strive for election fairness, especially when by-elections next month will be held for three seats in the National Assembly in Seoul and Gangneung.

We appreciate the National Election Commission's letter, for it reminds us that the two broadcasting companies lacked a sense of responsibility. We wonder why they allowed two candidates to appear, respectively, on KBS 1 Radio's "Economy is Seen," aired on Sept. 19, and MBC TV's "Section TV on Entertainment News," aired the same day. Producers from the programs were alleged to have said, "It is an error committed by ignorance." The election laws do not allow candidates to appear on broadcasting programs except those permitted by election laws, up to 90 days before the election. And broadcasting companies cannot air the candidates' voices and images if they are not being used for general reporting or debate programs, as stipulated by laws.

We are not thoroughly convinced that producers for economic and entertainment programs are ignorant of such clauses in the election laws.
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