Broadcasting for the publicMBC has once again made the mistake of using the national broadcasting network as if it were its own personal property. A few nights ago, on an episode of the program “PD Diary,” it blatantly promoted the acquittal of the four producers and one scriptwriter who were on trial for charges of defamation and obstruction of sales related to a 2008 episode of the program on mad cow disease. With the justification that it “hopes to help viewers understand, as there was much debate after the ruling,” the action can only be seen as a privatization of public property and a clear case of interference in a trial in progress. Why did the network not produce a similar promotional program last year, when the Seoul High Court ruled that the program should be corrected because the reports it made were false? When similar rulings are handed down by the High Court and the Supreme Court, will it decide to produce similar programs?
MBC is vacillating between “public service” and “privatization,” according to its needs and its bottom line, but it is still a public service broadcasting station. Fairness and objectivity are crucial because it is entrusted with a network that belongs to the public. Furthermore, Article 11 of the “Regulations on TV Network Deliberation” states “Content that may influence the result of a trial must not be broadcast when a trial is in process, and related in-depth reports must not damage the public interest.” That is the rule for dealing with trials. If MBC presents a one-sided view on something with which they are involved, it becomes less than qualified to speak about “public service” or the “public.”
When prosecutors arrested the entire PD Diary production team, we expressed concerns that it was not good for members of the press to be arrested, regardless of the details of the situation. We also recommended that MBC take the time to reflect on the false report they had made. MBC aired an apology, but only after it was ordered to do so by the Korea Communications Standards Commission. Now, it still seems to be saying, “We did nothing wrong.” With the most recent PD Diary episode, the honest approach would have been to reveal all of the raw material related to the report and let the public judge for itself, instead of airing only “newly-revealed material” favorable to MBC. The broadcaster should be ashamed for failing to abide by the basic rules of investigation and reporting, and it should think again before it seeks the judgment of the court.