Dishonesty at MBCDoes the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation intend to hide and distort the truth about the mad cow disease controversy for a long time? The July 15 episode of MBC’s public affairs program, PD Diary, titled “Tell the Truth about the Controversy,” revealed the broadcaster’s wrongful intentions.
Its April 29 episode, titled “Urgent Report! Is U.S. beef safe from mad cow disease?” sparked irrational panic across the country. It was later revealed that the program was based on false and distorted information. The producers maintained that the essence of the issue is not translation problems but the fact that the government reached a hasty deal with Washington and has sacrificed our quarantine sovereignty.
But that is not the case. The April 29 episode comes mainly from interviews and materials in English. Decisive parts were mistranslated in the Korean subtitles, and that is the essence of the problem. An investigation of the “illness of a Portsmouth woman” was translated as an investigation of “a person who died of the human form of mad cow disease.” The phrase “abusing animals” was translated into “forcing cows that are suspected of having mad cow disease to stand up.” This can’t be a simple mistake. When the producer narrating the program said that, “the clip of cows with mad cow disease was shocking,” the producers have no excuses to hide behind.
The responsibility lies not with a single producer but with MBC. The broadcaster allowed the producers to broadcast an additional episode to make excuses for a previous one. This was exactly in line with documents from a meeting at the broadcaster, which were revealed in the National Assembly. The documents stated that, “We will not accept our mistakes or make apologies and we will find an excuse to take time, for instance, by not responding to the police subpoena.”
Article 11 of the regulations on broadcasting standards stipulates that when a program is involved in a trial, programs that might have an influence on the trial must not be aired. MBC refuses to comply with the court’s order to submit the original interview tape with the mother of the Portsmouth woman and prosecutors’ subpoena to appear regarding a libel case filed by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
MBC is not above the law. Behaving as a public broadcaster is the only way for it to survive. The broadcaster must make a sincere apology to the people and do as it is told by the court and the prosecutors.