[EDITORIALS]Time for reflection at KBS

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[EDITORIALS]Time for reflection at KBS

The Korea Broadcasting System recorded its largest deficit ever last year ― 63.8 billion won ($63 million). Since most media companies, with the exception of some cable TV networks and Internet news agencies, suffered a blow to advertising revenue last year, it would be unfair to single out KBS for poor performance. Considering that 60 percent of the company’s revenues come from the advertising earnings of KBS 2TV, it is possible to point to the drop in commercials as a good reason for the large deficit.
But we do not believe that was the sole reason that the state-run network ran into trouble. Instead, we believe the sluggish economy only played a part in clearly revealing the chronic problems that existed within KBS. The most severe problems with the management at KBS are its excessively diffuse structure and closed culture. Also, the airing of programs to fit president Jung Yun-joo’s tastes has created a bad impression among viewers. So it is only natural for the network to suffer a drop in advertisements when TV viewers are changing to different channels.
However, little if any self-examination has taken place within KBS. When a worker at Japan’s state-run NHK was found to have wasted the firm’s expense budget, the network made a grave reflection of its past acts while the chairman stepped down from his position, accepting responsibility for the incident.
But in a similar incident at KBS, all the network did was penalize the employee involved. With this kind of practice continuing to take place, it is highly unlikely that the company’s high-cost/low-productivity manpower structure, along with the inefficient management of local stations, will be improved ― something that was described as an urgent task by the Board of Audit and Inspection.
What’s more lamentable is that the company and its labor union are blaming each other as the main cause of the large deficit. But in fact, both parties are at fault. Management failed to execute reform policies due to its fear of labor union members while the union only seemed concerned about maintaining jobs, rather than adjusting to the changing environment.
Self-reflection from both sides is necessary, and KBS itself needs to go through massive reform. We ask the company to establish and execute short- to long-term plans to eliminate the deficit and stick to producing quality television programs.
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