[EDITORIALS]What Is the KBS Task Force For?

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[EDITORIALS]What Is the KBS Task Force For?

News companies, be they newspapers or broadcasters, have been delegated "the people's right to know" when they cover news. If a company forgets this principle and abuses journalistic functions for selfish reasons, it has to be the target of "media reform." On Monday, Grand National Party Assemblyman Park Jong-hee disclosed in the Culture and Tourism Committee that the Korean Broadcasting System has formed an "urgent task force" in its news bureau. Since the background of its formation is unclear, we are suspicious whether KBS is abusing its journalistic functions for selfish reasons.

The KBS labor union newsletter revealed some details in its Feb. 13 issue under the title "KBS is ready to attack newspapers." It says, "A task force has been urgently organized centered on a second chief editor of the news bureau. It has embarked on collecting irregularities of newspaper companies and expresssed its strong determination to fight them." A related article, titled "war clouds are hanging over the conflict between broadcasters and newspapers," makes it clear that the task force has been swiftly formed in preparation for battling newspapers by saying, "This team has been urgently manned by cultural and social desk reporters. It is not to give weight to media reform coverage or to prepare for the tax audit and the Fair Trade Commission investigations toward KBS." KBS officially explained in the National Assembly, "Misunderstanding occurred when the second editor-in-chief was given the responsibility to supervise all departments dealing with the media issue to prevent possible omission of reports." Judging from circumstances, however, this explanation lacks credibility.

News companies cannot be free from social criticism. If newspapers have some problems, broadcasters may point them out and suggest improvement measures. However, if the formation of a KBS task force is designed to criticize newspapers as its labor union worries, it is a grave matter. If so, it means that KBS has assumed the role of a critic for the sake of criticism. Furthermore, just because it is not happy with newspapers' criticism of KBS, if it intends to collect irregularities, it is tantamount to using its "delegated authority" for its own benefits. We ask KBS to offer a responsible explanation.

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