[EDITORIALS]Money clouded license issueThe Korean Broadcasting Commission has decided to renew Seoul Broadcasting System’s operating permit, but it’s a renewal with strings attached.
The commission ruled that the network should give 15 percent of its net profits before taxes - profits after which the company’s other donations have been subtracted - every year from now on to non-profit organizations. The commission also said that the network should give back 30 billion won it owes to non-profit organizations over next three years. When the network was founded in 1990, its founder pledged to give back 15 percent of its net profit every year to non-profit organizations: the 30 billion won is the amount the company has reneged on since 1990. The commission’s decision leaves us with bitter feelings because the past five months of prolonged review have revolved around money.
It is the commission’s job to monitor and review whether the networks are appropriately using the national airwaves, which are public property.
Throughout the review process, rumors flew the government was trying to rein in the network. Whether it was voluntary or not, family members of the network’s founder stepped down. The commission also gave the impression it was adjusting its review in relation to the political climate around the network. The proof may be that the 90-day review period was extended three times, and the commission took another three weeks before reaching a decision. The general impression was the commission pressured the network by dragging its feet since network’s operating license ends this year.
Prior to the final decision, the commission had vowed to make its review a comprehensive one, assessing whether the network fulfilled public service obligations. The war of nerves resulted in the commission dictating how much money the network would give to non-profit organizations, undermining its own authority.
Through this review, the commission has demonstrated its force. The commission went so far as to mention that ownership and management of the network should be separated. Who would readily agree that the commission is a politically neutral and a fair body? The commission should not forget that the commission’s authority to renew the network’s permit was given by the public. For its part, the network should also take a good look at itself and the issue.