Out of balance at MBC

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Out of balance at MBC

A host of MBC’s news and current affairs programs has received disciplinary punishment for having violated media standards.

In a meeting held Wednesday the Korea Communications Standards Commission ruled that the MBC current affairs show “News Who” had violated fairness and objectivity and must deliver an apology to its viewers, which is a severe punishment. The commission issued a warning to the program “News Desk” and an advisory message to the program “Current Affairs Magazine 2580.”

The commission’s decision to punish MBC is an appropriate measure to prevent a public broadcaster from being used unfairly. MBC should humbly accept the decision and make an effort to be reborn as a broadcaster that is fair and objective.

It is, however, difficult to sense any remorse from some of MBC’s employees. One News Desk staff member appeared at the commission’s March 4 meeting to give his opinion on the matter. He said they had actively tried to handle the issue but also claimed that they had remained neutral. The use of biased titles and interviews with people only from one side notwithstanding, there was one anchor who said in the middle of a program that he opposed the revision of the controversial media reform bills and that he had joined the strike. It is hard to regard that as balanced reporting. The broadcast industry is declining and is in fact facing a crisis. MBC needs to realize the error of its ways if it is to survive in today’s harsh reality.

Not long ago, the former president of MBC unveiled a plan that would allow the company to overcome the economic slowdown. It was focused on staff restructuring and was not concerned with restoring the broadcaster’s ability to be fair and remain neutral. But he had overlooked the fact that the crisis at MBC had originated from its inability to be fair, not from the economic situation. This is supported by statistics - the fact that MBC’s ratings, and its balance sheet, are deteriorating faster than those of other network TV stations.

According to the commission, MBC programs have received 127 disciplinary punishments over the past three years, more than other network broadcasters and cable channels. If this persists, MBC will have difficulty getting permission to broadcast, let alone revitalize its business.

MBC needs to apologize for its mistakes and make a concerted effort to restore balance to its programming. That would be a better way to revive the company, rather than cutting employment and restructuring.
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