[EDITORIALS]A broadcasting debacle

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[EDITORIALS]A broadcasting debacle

The Korea Broadcasting Commission has declined to renew the license of Incheon TV on the ground that the local broadcaster lacks the financial capability necessary to conduct a broadcasting business. The main reason for the unprecedented situation lies in a conflict between the company’s labor and management.
In its first announcement on the issue of a license renewal, the commission said that the final decision would come after it confirmed iTV’s effort to improve its financial structure. The commission organized a public hearing on iTV, a prerequisite for rejection, only on Dec. 10.
This shows that while management was in the worst situation of losing its capital, if labor and management had succeeded in finding a compromise, instead of a confrontation with a general strike and shutdown of the workplace, iTV could have saved itself. It is a case that vividly shows how enormous the consequences can be when labor and management lose confidence in each other.
The ultimate victim, however, is not the shareholders, managers or workers, but the viewers who enjoyed iTV. The commission must do its best to revive the lost “viewing rights” of residents of the Gyeonggi-Incheon area.
Since the commission decided not to renew iTV’s license, various ideas, including selecting a new broadcaster and utilizing the channel for other specialized programs, are being debated. But we think it proper that the channel should be reserved for a private local broadcaster. The commission must select a new broadcaster in a transparent and swift way and minimize the damage to the viewing rights of the local population.
At the same time, it must do its best to finish revising the broadcasting law soon. The course of the renewal has exposed the fact that there is no provision in the current law for procedures that follow the rejection of a license renewal. Therefore, we are in a terminated broadcast crisis. Even when a renewal is rejected, if the law is revised to allow a transition period to facilitate the transfer of the business between outgoing and incoming broadcasters, the viewing rights of the audience will not be infringed.
The old practice, in which a broadcaster remains a broadcaster forever once granted a license, is broken. The commission should pay as much attention to fair broadcasting as it does to its public purpose.
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