Union first, public secondThe Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation appears to be staging a farce for its own pleasure. The players are newly-appointed president Kim Jae-chul, labor union members and the board of directors at the Foundation for Broadcast Culture, the majority shareholder in the country’s second-largest broadcasting network.
Kim, handpicked by the shareholders’ board to replace Ohm Ki-young, who quit in protest of executive appointments made by the board, had to skip his inauguration ceremony after angering the board on his first day of work.
Last week, on his first day, the labor union blocked the new president’s entry to the main building - so he set up a tent in the parking lot. But he soon gave in and bowed deeply to show his respect for the union.
He played to the union leaders with extreme rhetoric such as: “I will fight against the government till the end to defend MBC’s sovereignty and freedom. If not, you can throw me in the Han River.”
He was let into the building only after agreeing to follow the union’s demands to replace the two executives named by the board of directors that led to Ohm’s resignation.
After reporting for work, Kim tried to reappoint the executives as the heads of subsidiaries. When confronted by the board of directors, however, he apologized for taking such swift action.
His actions did not win any points with anyone, no matter on which side of the issue they stood.
Conservatives have expressed doubt about the prospects for reform at the network, given Kim’s oscillating and incredulous start. Meanwhile, labor activist groups have asked why the labor union has given up its protest against Kim’s appointment so easily.
We have no interest in who heads the network, appoints the executives or gets sent to work at subsidiary companies.
But it is disheartening to see the broadcaster serves the labor union rather than the public, a fact that the appointment episode shows. The left-wing labor union wields power over such a trivial matter as the MBC president’s access to his workplace, as well as how and what is aired. As such, they may be behind the distortion of the facts in news programs.
A news anchor at this network said in a recent closing comment that he won’t be able to deliver the news for a period of time because he has to participate in a walkout. The broadcaster then had to air an apology, as required by the broadcasting authorities, via an affiliate rather than the main station due to the actions of the union members.
Nobody likes reruns of a terrible farce. The public will not hesitate to abandon the broadcaster if it ends up existing primarily to please its labor union.