[EDITORIALS]KBS needs true reformThe Korea Broadcasting System is expected to show a loss of 80 billion won ($80 million) this year. Jung Yun-joo, the president of KBS, has presented a reform plan saying, “Without thorough reform, survival is difficult for KBS.”
The plan includes a reduction of 57 billion won in annual spending, wage cuts, inducements for early retirement and the transfer of KBS Korea, a satellite channel specializing in Korean cultural programs, to a subsidiary. Mr. Jung also disclosed a plan to increase viewers’ fees and allow advertisements in the middle of programs in addition to airing indirect ads. He said the fee should be tripled because it has not risen in 24 years. He also expressed a desire to raise revenue from advertising by revising the Broadcasting Act. We cannot help asking Mr. Jung whether this is his “thorough reform.”
The most urgent task for KBS is to restore its role as a public broadcaster. Public rejection of the fee is related to their dissatisfaction with the station. While society is filled with the sound of noisy conflict, KBS has failed to help solve them or assist in social integration. Rather it has been one of the centers of the conflict.
In order to earn more from advertising, it gave up its role as a public broadcaster and accelerated the fall in quality of KBS-2 programs in order to cling to ratings. With no reflection on this and further supplementary steps taken, it is brazen for Mr. Jung to ask for an increase in the fee. Moreover, his plan to allow advertizing in the middle of programs will interrupt viewing and is an affront to viewers.
The real cause of the financial problems lies in cronyism. KBS employees don’t care about efficiency and are united in defending their jobs, and as a result, the broadcaster has become a mammoth organization. It joined with KBS-2 following a government plan in 1980 to merge the media and thus received income from adverts on KBS-2. But the moral standard of employees deteriorated as they spent lavishly and even swindled the company.
After the Audit and Inspection Board revealed management irregularities, KBS closed seven local stations and introduced a team system. But manpower remained intact ― restructuring was only superficial. Again, this time there is no drastic plan to reduce its size. Mr. Jung must streamline KBS first, before asking for more money.