KBS’ plea is a shamAs its 80th anniversary nears, the Korea Broadcasting System is airing special programs to emphasize the importance of the independence of public broadcasters. For example, they aired a program about governmental control of public broadcasting in other nations. KBS is worried that the law on management of public organizations, which will take effect in April, will infringe on its independence.
The station wants to be exempted from the law. The broadcaster implies that subscription fees should be raised. The law on the management of public organizations is aimed at improving the transparency and responsibility of these bodies and was passed at the National Assembly late last year.
KBS is worried that if the company is monitored and regulated in the same way as other government bodies by the Ministry of Planning and Budget, the broadcaster’s fairness and neutrality will be damaged. But the law is intended to uncover lax management of public companies.
It is brazen that KBS cries for independence of broadcasting, spends a large amount of money covering public broadcasting overseas and airs the programs during prime time.
People don’t pay subscription fees to watch programs that advocate KBS’ own interests.
When has KBS displayed independence? The so-called public broadcaster serves as a trumpeter of the powerful whenever a new administration enters office. Whenever there is a power shift, the company regrets what it has done, but it still doesn’t change.
Nobody believes it when the company promises to stay politically neutral. That is how the people feel about the company, particularly under current chairman Jung Yun-joo. When the broadcaster aired programs about the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun, scholars of journalism said the company was impartial only by a loose standard. Even when the company saw a large deficit of tens of billions of won (tens of millions of dollars), its employees received high wages and bonuses.
The company has refused to submit the required data on its management to the National Assembly. If these are examples of the independence that the company demands, it is not worth trying to secure it.
The people criticize the company for being shameless. To secure independence of public broadcasters, the system must be changed fundamentally.
But for now, it seems hopeless.