[EDITORIALS]Too many problems at KBS

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[EDITORIALS]Too many problems at KBS

A probe by the Board of Audit and Inspection revealed that the state-run Korean Broadcasting System is full of lax management practices. From personnel management to organization, to investment and facilities, everything seems to be off-track.
KBS has abused its monopolistic and exclusive status as a key state institution and failed to reinforce its role and duties as a public broadcaster.
Its Suwon drama production center in Gyeonggi province, which was built for 38 billion won ($32 million), is little used now. The operational rate of its studios is just between 8.7 and 41.1 percent. Three of its four studios and two of its three dubbing rooms are not in use, which makes us doubt whether it is really a production center.
For years, KBS also ignored the order by the government to stop supporting pension installments for its employees, saying that it has not reached an agreement with its labor union regarding the issue. Consequently, viewers who watched the boring commercials of KBS 2TV have helped KBS employees get unwarranted special bonuses.
The organizational reform of KBS must be achieved now. It can start by dismissing its surplus workforce. For its regional stations, a new arrangement is necessary as long as it does not hurt the diversity and decentralization of broadcasting.
Also, KBS’s large projects, such as building a multimedia center, will have to be reviewed so that unnecessary plans can be canceled and existing facilities can be used instead. At the same time, a new financial plan that requires KBS to reduce its expenditures should be introduced.
KBS’s problems are not limited to managerial affairs. The public broadcaster’s obvious bias should be resolved as well. It needs viewers’ trust if it wants to continue to receive viewing fees from them. But who would want to pay money to an organization whose management is lax and whose programs are biased?
The Board of Audit and Inspection said KBS’s problem occurred because oversight was weak. The Korean Broadcasting Commission is to blame because it has the right to choose KBS’s board members. As a result, new rules are needed that would insulate KBS’s board of directors from politics.
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