MBC announcers claim to be duped over jobs

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MBC announcers claim to be duped over jobs

Ten former contract announcers for the local TV network Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) urged the broadcaster to hire them as permanent employees on Tuesday during a press conference in Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul, claiming they were deceived by company executives linked to the former conservative administration and sidelined by the channel’s new president.

The announcers said they were verbally promised permanent positions when they were hired one or two years ago during Kim Jang-kyom’s leadership of MBC, but were fired this or last month after MBC tapped Choi Seung-ho as its new president in December. Kim was dismissed on accusations he allowed former President Park Geun-hye’s right-leaning government to influence MBC’s operation and reporting.

Kim’s departure from the major TV network brought an end to a months-long strike calling for his dismissal. Shortly after Choi was chosen as the new president, he alluded to the possibility that the contract announcers could be fired, accusing them of being hired in the first place to “clamp down” on the full-time announcers who were on strike.

In 2016 and 2017, MBC hired contract announcers because most announcers with full-time, permanent positions were involved in intermittent strikes since 2012. The contract workers said they were hired through the same screening process and told by company executives at the time that they’d likely be given full-time positions.

They realized that was a lie in February, when, for the first time since 2013, MBC announced it would hire full-time announcers. The contract announcers were informed they would have to leave the company by April or May unless they applied for full-time positions and landed them.

Among 11 contract announcers who applied, only one got a job. The rest were forced to leave.

When full-time MBC announcers returned to the company after shows began to air normally, the contract announcers said they were blamed for “stealing their jobs” and felt so much pressure to keep their heads low that they wrote a joint apology and posted it on the company’s bulletin board in January.

Looking back, the contract announcers said they regret not joining the strike but claimed they had no other choice because the company threatened to terminate their year-long contracts if they did.

One announcer said she was continuously pressured not to join the strike by former executives through text messages, emails and in face-to-face conversations.

BY CHOI KYU-JIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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