Political bias is everywhereNews programs in the three nationwide terrestrial TV networks have collectively lost their balance. The hosts are mostly pro-government and busy trumpeting liberal policies. Progressive figures dominate TV and radio programs. A podcast host famous for his direct outbursts annoyed many conservative viewers for making controversial comments on nationwide television. Even guest panelists are usually chosen from the progressive front.
The media research arm of Seoul National University studied TV and radio news programs during the first 500 days under former President Park Geun-hye and current President Moon Jae-in. The study found political bias deepened in TV news programs in the breakdown of hosts, guest speakers, interviews and presentations under the Moon administration. It cited a news talk show hosted by leftist comedian Kim Je-dong on KBS, an investigational news program by freelance liberal journalist Joo Jin-woo on MBC and an SBS program hosted by former podcast star Kim Uh-jun to be the most biased. “There is no TV news program that enables balanced and open discussions,” the study concluded.
Similar results have been found with radio programs. Kim Uh-jun hosts a radio show and other leftist figures command the microphones of news shows. Kim’s show was claimed to be most partial. He received a warning from the Korea Communications Standards Committee for his contemptuous remarks about the physically disabled during a live show in November 2017. The study also found media programs critical of the government went nearly extinct under the Moon administration, raising concerns about deepening bias in the media.
Viewers and audiences are losing patience with one-sided political coverage and commentary, but the censorship committee remains on the sidelines. The regulatory commission found no problem, after reviewing the Kim Je-dong program, for inviting the head of a civilian body trying to organize a welcome parade for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if he visits South Korea. Representatives named by conservative parties have walked out of the meeting in protest. The panel lacks independence, as there are more members representing the ruling party.
Media outlets are free to have political preferences. But public broadcasters must represent the views of the population. After seating liberal figures as the presidents of terrestrial TV networks, the government allowed commercial breaks during programs to help them. The broadcasters must remember their public and media’s role if they do not want to lose more public confidence.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 12, Page 30