Out in left fieldTBS, a traffic radio station owned by the Seoul Metropolitan government is growing more progressive by the day. It employs decisively pro-liberal hosts and acts as a propaganda tool for the government. Their hosts regularly slam any critical comments against the government from the mainstream media and has been causing unnecessary conflicts in the media industry.
The radio station runs on a 30 billion won ($25 million) annual budget that comes entirely from the taxes of Seoul citizens, yet it serves as a mouthpiece for only a select audience. A dedicated traffic station should not run news and commentary programs. Although its permit does not specifically ban news programs, the channel is licensed to focus on traffic and weather reports.
The station has added An Jin-geol, head of a private economic research institute who has been campaigning for the release of former leftist lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, who was sentenced to prison for nine years in 2015 for plotting an armed rebellion, as a show host, in addition to Kim Kyu-ri, a liberal actress, and Joo Jin-woo, a leftist freelance reporter.
The guests are naturally selective. Over the last nine months, ruling party lawmakers appeared on the station’s shows 107 times, while the number of appearances made by members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party is only 49. Guest speakers from civilian groups have all been pro-government.
Kim Ou-joon’s news program has frequently been censored by the country’s broadcasting authority. Out of the 13 sanctions that the station received from the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) in 2017, 10 were given to his program for distortion of facts, violation of neutrality and the use of vulgar language. It had faced five legal penalties.
The host regularly invited figures supporting controversial Justice Minister Cho Kuk to defend him and his family. Any criticism of Cho is defined by the host as “fake news.”
The radio station’s political leanings became one-sided under liberal Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. We have public broadcaster KBS running on public fees and TBS Radio operating on taxes from Seoul citizens, But they only serve the current government. How long does the public have to put up with the one-sidedness? The KCC must penalize TBS for violating its original mission.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 8, Page 30