KBS still a work in progress

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KBS still a work in progress

The facelift of the public broadcaster KBS is nearing an end, and a new beginning is approaching.

As a final step in the reshuffle, the broadcaster’s newly appointed board of directors nominated former Sogang University President Sohn Byung-doo as chairman on Tuesday. Starting next week, Sohn will receive regular briefings related to the business management of KBS. He is expected to map out proposals that will improve the management structure by next month.

A recent KBS report revealed that the broadcaster lacks fairness and objectivity when it comes to reporting news and broadcasting programs. For KBS, the analysis is a deathblow. The report also clearly reflects why KBS is continuously losing credibility with the public. In 2007, 43.1 percent of those surveyed said they trust KBS. The figure had plunged to 29.9 percent as of last year.

When Sohn was chosen to lead the board of directors, he vowed that he would transform KBS into a fair broadcaster, using the British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the BBC, as an example. His words adequately reflect KBS’s dire situation.

But to fully restore the public’s trust, KBS needs to navigate a rocky road, as it will take continuous efforts to bring about change. Unless specific measures are taken to restore the public’s trust, Sohn will not be able to reach his stated goals. The new board of directors needs to study the know-how of advanced countries’ public broadcasters and build specific monitoring procedures to ensure fairness at KBS.

Furthermore, it’s more important to keep KBS’s balance sheet in the black. The major goal of a public broadcaster is not related to generating profits but to providing benefits for the entire society. However, the broadcaster needs to make enough money to stand on its own feet. KBS’s deficit has reached 117.2 billion won ($94.1 million) since 2004.

On the other hand, its workers’ welfare and salary level are in the top tier when compared with other public corporations. The government is pushing for an increase in KBS’s current monthly television subscription fee, but it’s opposed by many residents, who don’t think it deserves more money. The public will support a hike in the subscription fee if KBS workers put in valid efforts to change. To make this happen, the new board of directors should introduce intensive reform measures.

The public is not asking too much from KBS. People simply want to watch fair, balanced and high-quality programs. We hope the new board members will work together to transform KBS into a genuine public broadcaster.
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