The most urgent and important task facing the Foundation for Broadcast Culture’s new board of directors is to restore Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation to its role as a public service broadcaster for the people.
It is our firm belief that a reshuffling of the board of directors - which is responsible for the management and supervision of MBC, as the foundation is the network’s largest shareholder - will not give the government essential control over the broadcasting system, as the opposition insists.
However, it’s clear that MBC has ended up in a de facto no man’s land of regulation since the merger and abolition of the media by the military regime in the 1980s.
Conducting a fundamental overhaul of the network to make it into a sound and competitive broadcaster is urgently needed.
To this end, we should take two main steps.
Although MBC has called itself a public broadcaster, its behavior over the years suggests otherwise, both in terms of its management system and its overall attitude to broadcasting.
It should perform its duty as a social public institution and ensure transparency in management.
To date, MBC has not released its internal audit results publicly, and it has never reported to the foundation’s board of directors, despite myriad criticism about the broadcaster’s reckless management practices.
The average annual salary of the staff exceeds 100 million won ($81,796).
And although union workers are engaged in a large-scale strike, it hasn’t been particularly damaging or effective, as there’s a surplus of manpower.
In addition, although the network has caused untold social anxiety by grossly distorting the facts - as it did with its reports on mad cow disease last year - executives have never undertaken a responsible investigation into the circumstances behind these incidents.
They also never showed any inclination to create and implement a filtering system to prevent prejudiced and distorted reports in the future.
Broadcasters have aired personal political and ideological beliefs to help sway viewers, as with the mad cow reporting.
That could happen again at any time.
The new directors, who assume their responsibilities on Sunday, should renew their awareness of these circumstances.
They should shoulder their responsibilities to help MBC become a public broadcaster more than in name only.
They should ensure that there is transparency in MBC’s management, and they must help launch a responsible filtering system to avoid the mistakes of the past.
And they shouldn’t do it alone, as the labor union should participate in these efforts as well.