[Letter to the editor]Arirang TV: Response to Mr. Hal Piper

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[Letter to the editor]Arirang TV: Response to Mr. Hal Piper

On behalf of Arirang TV, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Harold Piper for his involvement as a guest panelist on the weekly news program “Korea Today.” A regular participant in the show for the past two years, he became well-known for delivering insightful and spirited remarks, many derived from his experiences in Korea. I am dismayed, however, at his taking of what amounts to a personal grievance to a public forum such as the JoongAng Daily [Observer, Feb. 23].
First, the title of the article, “Arirang gets rid of annoying outside views,” is blatantly misleading and false. Arirang TV does not have a policy aimed at stifling the views of its guest panelists. In fact, we continue to invite people to participate in our shows precisely because of their views, as was the case with Mr. Piper. It goes without saying that had we found his style “annoying,” he would not have been invited back repeatedly over a two-year period.
Second, Arirang TV does not make its programming decisions based on guest contributions to particular shows. Rather, Arirang TV, like other broadcasting companies, reorganizes its program lineup every spring and fall, based on data such as viewer feedback, ratings, advertisers’ and supporters’ input and our ongoing commitment to serve the community.
This is precisely the case with the recent programming changes launched as part of the 10th anniversary of our founding. Though Mr. Piper is free to disagree with our decisions, he should realize that the programming choices we have made are not a result of differences with his views, but rather a responsible outcome of listening to our viewers.
“Korea Today,” the show which Mr. Piper participated in, used to be presented by one anchor, one news reporter and two outside panelists. We now run it with one anchor. The reason is rather simple and uncontroversial ― to meet the audience need for content that is more compact and easier to understand. We do not shun news that is critical of Korea. In fact, we regularly carry news portraying problems facing Korean society. For “Korea Today,” which is not a hard news program, we found that a simpler format was more in line with our mission of “Korea for the World, the World for Korea.” This new format represents a growing trend in the news industry worldwide; it is also preferred by news services that depend on us for their Korean news programming. We eliminated the panel discussions not because they were “annoying,” but because we found they didn’t serve the purpose of the program nor meet the needs of our target audience in view of the increasing number of newsworthy stories that we would like to present.
Mr. Piper also claimed that the content of “Korea Today” is one-sided; however, government-supported media such as Germany’s DW-TV or China’s CCTV have programming geared to promote their respective countries.
Arirang TV also disagrees with his assessment that Koreans suffer from an “inferiority complex.” It seems to me that Mr. Piper has confused our efforts at showcasing Korea at its best, or, as he would claim, “pretending Korea is perfect,” with what he describes as a desperate desire to seek respect or approval from the world. It is hardly a sign of inferiority to share one’s success stories with others.
For the record, the new management at Arirang TV is not composed mainly of “trade-promotion flacks instead of journalists.” As a matter of fact, none are trade-promotion flacks. Rather, the new management has journalism backgrounds for the first time in the 10-year-old network’s history.
And finally, regarding Mr. Piper’s comment likening the self-portrait of Korea presented by Arirang TV with the propaganda machine operating in North Korea, I simply ask that he, and our viewers, watch the newly revised “Korea Today” program and decide for themselves.
Cho Hyun-jin, director,
news team at Arirang TV
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