[VIEWPOINT]The takeover of the TV commission

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[VIEWPOINT]The takeover of the TV commission

The third term Korea Broadcasting Commission has been launched. For the next three years, it will be responsible for broadcasting policies.
The birth was overdue by more than two months, and the delivery was long and painful. The controversy over the qualifications and character of the considered candidates continued without cease, and some prominent candidates were excluded from selection. Even after the selections were made, a series of statements of opposition followed.
The ruling party was allowed to appoint six of the nine members of the commission, while the opposition will have three members.
The appointment of the commissioners was a hot potato because figures with strong factional inclinations were appointed in an attempt by both the ruling party and the opposition party to take control of the Broadcasting Commission.
Therefore, the new members are not free from the debt they owe for their position. If the members of the Broadcasting Commission think only of representing the interests of each political faction, they cannot avoid being called political tools.
Then, the clash between the ruling party, which hopes to prolong the life of its regime by getting command of the commission and exerting influence on broadcasting stations, and the opposition party, which has to hold such an attempt in check, might turn the Broadcasting Commission into a political quagmire.
I desperately hope such a lamentable situation does not happen.
While the commissioners will certainly have heated discussions, in the end, those politically sensitive issues are highly likely to be determined in a direction the pro-ruling party commissioners want. In a positive way, the system acknowledges a premium for the ruling party, giving it control of the board.
However, the administration must not abuse or exploit its advantage in the commission’s composition.
If the Broadcasting Commission, which directly and indirectly gets involved in the appointment of the presidents at KBS, MBC and EBS, makes politically biased decisions, the political inclination might be expanded and reproduced across the broadcasting industry.
In the worst case, public television networks will neglect their duty to promote the public interest and broadcast unbiased programs deteriorating into a propaganda tool of a certain ideology or public relations instrument.
This is why citizens have to stay alert and keep watch over the Broadcasting Commission.
The cliquism is not a problem limited to this third-term commission.
Since each political party has been allotted a certain number of seats, the possibility that the Broadcasting Commission could get involved in political warfare has always been present.
However, the third-term commission finds itself getting entangled in yet another kind of clash, namely the collision between a broadcasting union and a media activist group.
Regarding KBS President Jung Yun-joo’s reappointment, the KBS union, which is calling for Mr. Jung to step down, is pitted against the Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media, which supports the reappointment.
It seems obvious how the Broadcasting Commission will handle this subtle and sensitive discord. President Roh Moo-hyun mentioned the selfishness of broadcasting unions when he appointed the commissioners, so he has already conveyed his intentions.
Among the nine commissioners, three members, including the chairman and the vice chairman, were formerly associated with the Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media. The ruling party, the Broadcasting Commission and the Citizens Coalition are virtually working together.
Why did the government establish such a system? Do they think that they can go against the flow of public sentiment revealed in the recent local election results?
And do they think that would happen if the Broadcasting Commission tacitly approves the biased, pro-ruling party public television operation while progressive groups such as the Citizens Coalition vigorously defend biased broadcasting?
The ruling party has to stop trying to control the media through the broadcasting commission. Using the broadcasting system as a political propaganda machine will not only deteriorate democracy by damaging the independence and fairness of broadcasting, but also result in fierce public resistance.
What is more important than a political gain is to produce wise policy decisions for various pending issues.
Above all, it is a pity that not a single candidate with the technical and policy expertise to initiate the integration of broadcasting and communication has been appointed to the commission.

* The writer is a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism and Mass Communication of Yonsei University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


by Yun Yong-cheol
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