[EDITORIALS]A sad episode in TV landOne of the standards used to assess the viability of a democratic society is how well that society protects individual rights. Criminals should be punished but their rights must not be violated. A nationwide television network has enormous influence over its viewers, and it is responsible for planning programs that do not violate personal rights.
A program that aired last night on KBS 2, however, is guilty of trampling on our most cherished principle. The originator of the program, the Korean Broadcasting System, a public broadcaster, cannot avoid criticism that it infringed on a person’s rights. Its program, "Call up Chun Doo Hwan, the fine defaulter," was nothing more than an attempt to insult the former president publicly. (Of course, it insults our common sense that Mr. Chun has said he has just 291,000 won($243) in the bank. It is still in the judicial authorities' jurisdiction to punish Mr. Chun for failing to pay fines while living a life of luxury. But the broadcaster had no right to precipitate a disturbance in front of Mr. Chun's house. Such an act is clearly an invasion of privacy and defamation of character. Who can guarantee that KBS, from now on, will not thrust its camera into the face of the broadcaster's target of dislike and choreograph another public insult? KBS, which is owned by the people, abused its right to use the airwaves, assuming the role of judge and jury.
Today, the power of the media is growing rapidly, but we must remember that programs produced by public TV stations are owned by the public. The public’s interests must be their top priority, and their news and other programs must display common sense.
This sad episode may be the product of the endless pursuit of high ratings. It may have been prompted by the usual belief that a program must be sensational and eye-catching. Such ill practices must end immediately. KBS invited more criticism by putting the program in the hands of a host who is known to favor the Roh administration. This has set it up for more attacks. The station’s programming department must revise the program entirely, or scrap it, to end any unwanted misunderstandings.