[EDITORIALS]A fundamental principleThe government has decided how the members of a new committee on broadcasting and communication will be appointed. Under the plan, for the five senior members, the chairman and two vice chairmen will be appointed by the president and the remaining two will be appointed from nominations made by related organizations. The government plans to confirm the elements of the new committee at a cabinet council meeting on Friday and submit its plan to the National Assembly in early January. The office of the prime minister explained that their bill is aimed at selecting members from a cross section of society.
But this new plan is not much different from the original under which the president would appoint all five members of the committee. Even though two members will now be appointed among nominees from other organizations, it is highly likely that nominations from pro-government organizations will be favored. It is thus predictable that those who share the administration’s ideology will be nominated. That’s the same as all five being appointed by the president.
The new committee, scheduled to be launched next year, will be a large-scale organization that combines the Korean Broadcasting Commission and the Ministry of Information and Communication. The committee will have important duties such as choosing the heads of the three major broadcasting companies and setting future policies for broadcasting and communication.
That’s why the committee should be politically neutral and independent. Out of nine board members on the existing broadcasting committee, the president nominated three and the National Assembly six, in an attempt to achieve political balance. Even so, political neutrality has always been an issue for the committee. If the new committee is filled with members who share the ideology of the president, the results are predictable. The independence of broadcasters will be damaged and public broadcasting companies will be turned into degraded tools of the powerful. In particular, when the presidential election is held next year, public broadcasting companies will favor the ruling camp and that will be a sin against the country.
So, even if the president appoints the head of the committee, the other four should be chosen by the National Assembly. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission sets a good example; the number of members who belong to political parties cannot exceed three. Independence in broadcasting is a fundamental principle of democracy.