[EDITORIALS]Press freedom and televisionThe conflict between broadcasting companies and opposition political parties is getting serious. Three broadcasting companies refused to broadcast a live debate among Grand National Party candidates running for the party chairmanship following the claims raised by the opposition party that programs about the National Assembly’s impeachment of President Roh were biased.
Freedom of the press, a crucial element of a democratic society, should be upheld without exception. But it is the duty of the press to exercise the right to know on behalf of the people, and they should not leave a stain in their pursuit of truth through fair reporting.
We agree that the freedom of the press cannot be infringed on by any political power. Based on this, the broadcasters claim that charges of unfair reporting by the opposition parties infringed on their right to broadcast the news. But in this case, we believe that broadcasting companies were responsible for instigating the conflict. The illeffects of airing one-sided opinions repeatedly as if they were objective reality are obvious. Broadcasting companies should remind themselves that such practice downgrade them to mouthpieces for the administration.
The same concept applies to the airing of the Grand National Party’s chairmanship competition. It is unfair to broadcast the event by Our Open Party but refuse to do the same for the Grand Nationals. Imminent legislative elections could be a reason for turning down the requests to broadcast the debate, but it was unreasonable to refuse to broadcast the debate because of concerns about unbalanced reporting. If they are worried about partial reporting, there are many other ways to correct that.
Broadcasting companies hold the key to resolving the conflict. They should stop indulging in “broadcast power,” and instead carry out their duties as a mediator of information. A handful of television news organizers have no right to limit the people’s right to know. The viewers have the rightful title to the broadcasting companies. Still, it would have been more reasonable for the opposition to file protests with the Press Arbitration Commission and Korean Broadcasting Commission instead of visiting broadcast media executives to complain.