An insincere apologyTV network MBC aired Tuesday an apology for its “PD Diary” reports on mad cow disease, at the order of the Korea Communications Standards Commission. The broadcaster said, “We sincerely apologize to viewers.”
It was 106 days after the episode “Is U.S. beef safe from mad cow disease?” was aired on April 29.
However, this is not sincere repentance for the harm the program did to our society.
The program broadcast a shocking report that eating American beef is the same as taking the risk of dying horribly from mad cow disease. The program caused Korean society to be engulfed by irrational fear about mad cow disease. It caused chaos in state affairs for four months and sparked candlelight vigils that paralyzed central Seoul.
The truth was the program depicted a clip showing animals being abused as cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy about to be slaughtered. It also exaggerated a suspicion that an American might have died from the human equivalent of mad cow disease.
However, it didn’t seem that they really felt sorry for what they did. Remarks by MBC President Ohm Ki-young and other executives at their meeting support this suspicion. They said they’d decided to follow the order for a larger cause and they evaluated that the program ultimately made a contribution to the people’s health and public interest.
This is far from repentance.
MBC doesn’t accept the court ruling to air corrections and opposite opinions but intends to appeal.
The broadcaster refuses to obey the prosecutors’ office’s order to hand in related materials and to appear for investigation.
This is why there is a suspicion that the station aired an apology to calm down negative public sentiment.
What’s more regretful is that the broadcaster’s labor union and some producers have strong influence inside MBC. The management decided to air the apology but it could not be aired from the headquarters.
A subsidiary company transmitted the film and MBC headquarters aired it as if showing a live program. That was because unionized workers blocked the entrance to the main control room.
The union has decided to demand the resignation of the president and producers of MBC’s entertainment department have started protest rallies.
We urge President Ohm and managers of the company to do as follows:
They must air a program to confess the wrongs of PD Diary and the harm that the program did, and repent for them sincerely.
The producers of PD Diary must be punished, instead of being transferred, as they broke the basic principle for journalists to report only facts.
They must listen to the people and viewers, not the labor union and some producers. They must make decisions and carry them out for the public interest, not for the interest of unionized workers and the producers.
MBC must take the right path for journalism if it wants to stand upright as a public broadcaster.