Announcers quit jobs to freelance while still trying to stay as hostsAgainst the backdrop of resignations of national television announcers, the announcers’ association and its union held talks last week to discuss what caused their colleagues to quit their jobs and to address the possibility of the situation continuing.
State-run KBS recently lost two of its star announcers, Kang Soo-jeong and Kim Byeong-chan, who both left to freelance. Both said through press releases and interviews that their reason for quitting was to achieve more independence. Those decisions clearly created a stir in national television, where it was once considered a privilege to work in public-service broadcasting.
“It is difficult to rely on morning news that’s being delivered by the same announcer who was joking the night before as host of a late night entertainment show,” said Kim Hyeon-ju, a professor at Kwangwoon University. “There are increasing numbers of emcees and announcers appearing on television nowadays without any mind or personal philosophy for working in public service broadcasting.”
“They are becoming like instant popular products that could disappear when their popularity dies out,” she said.
Some say it is natural for announcers to seek different roles in broadcasting.
“The broadcasting environment is changing and the role of announcers is also expected to change with the trends,” said Yang Seung-dong, head of the KBS producers’ association. He said the broadcasting system was not like in the past when news and educational programs were hosted exclusively by announcers. More broadcasting companies are hiring popular actors or comedians to host documentaries or educational programs, and some even choose these personalities to lead popular soft news programs, he said.
“It’s about how announcers can keep their footing in this world as the environment is changing so fast,” he said, adding that he believes if an announcer is popular among viewers and capable enough to also host entertainment programs, why not leave it up to them to work for whomever they like?
The KBS announcers’ association protested that broadcasters were wasting their resources and money by rehiring announcers who had left the company to keep them hosting the same program.
“The only reason that some of these announcers are able to work freelance is because there was consideration and conciliation to some extent from the organization they used to work for, which trained them to become who they are now,” said Kang Seong-gon, a KBS announcer.
The KBS announcers’ association wanted to go as far as to propose a new regulation hindering an announcer who resigned from continuing in a program for a certain period of time.
KBS decided to replace popular announcer Kang Soo-jeong, who was initially set to keep hosting two KBS entertainment shows despite her resignation from the company, due to the association’s protest.
The same decision was made about Kang Byeong-chan.
Critics say it is meaningless for announcers to depend on their popularity to keep their jobs.
“It is more important that announcers develop themselves to have an accurate and intellectual understanding for the programs that they host,” said Jeon Gyu-chan, a professor at the Korean National University of Arts.
by Ha Hyun-ock,Lee Min-a
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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