Cleaning up MBC

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Cleaning up MBC

The Foundation for Broadcast Culture, the main shareholder of the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, appointed three new senior executives to head the network’s newsroom, production and program allocation divisions. Then-MBC President Ohm Ki-young tendered his resignation in protest over the appointments, which ignored his own recommendations for the posts.

At first glance, it looks like a conflict between Munhwa’s main shareholder and its management over personnel appointments. But the matter is more complicated, underscoring the identity crisis faced by the country’s second-largest TV network.

The makeup of the board of directors is in the hands of MBC and its shareholders. Still, the question of who governs one of the largest national broadcasters cannot be ignored because the network is obligated to serve the public. In that, MBC has failed, and Ohm should have taken action sooner to address these problems.

The broadcaster has not taken responsibility for the episode of its widely watched news program “PD Diary” about American beef imports. The episode sparked a nationwide panic and a fight in court with the government.

But the program aired a follow-up episode reaffirming its original position, despite the public outcry against it. This after its producers were charged with defamation against the government.

The broadcaster has ignored criticism from within and has been negligent in fact-finding and fact-checking. Its executives and producers should have taken responsibility for stirring a controversy by stepping down.

When Ohm, a former popular news anchorman, tendered his resignation, MBC’s labor union attacked the government for meddling with its appointment process. It issued a statement pledging to fight against what it saw as the government’s attempt to control the broadcaster. This is the same labor union that last December protested against the board’s vote of confidence in Ohm, claiming he was a mouthpiece for the government and the foundation.

The labor union cares little who is at the helm as long as his actions coincide with its ideology and interests. It is no wonder then that MBC is known as “the unionists’ broadcaster.” The members of the union rally for truth and the public interest, yet they themselves shun basic broadcasting regulations.

MBC needs a complete overhaul. It has a public obligation to fulfill and it should not abuse the privilege of using the airwaves for its own self-interest or to fan social conflict.
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