MBC’s parade of gaffesMBC has been taking major missteps in its broadcasting of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It has been making big and small slips almost every day, raising questions about whether it is serious about its role and responsibility as a major public broadcaster. Its slips of the tongue and caption blunders have annoyed the people who have turned to the Olympic Games for relief from mass Covid-19 outbreaks and an unprecedentedly lengthy heat wave.
MBC’s coverage of the women’s volleyball match between Korea and Japan was the worst. After the Korean team achieved a deuce against the winning Japanese rival and finally triumphed in the match 3 to 2, the YouTube channel of MBC went overboard when doing an interview with star player Kim Yeon-kyoung. Although Kim actually said she was “overwhelmed and thankful” upon the reporter’s comment that the victory has given hope to the people, MBC posted a caption reading as if she was responding to “[Can you really say so] when Korea has won only volleyball while losing in soccer and baseball?” The misleading caption was an outright disgrace to the athlete who has played to her best abilities.
MBC has neglected the primary principle of journalism to be precise and objective. MBC President Park Sung-jae bowed and apologized for its international blunder during its broadcasting of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. While live-broadcasting the parade of athletes and each participating nation, MBC aired disrespectful images of Ukraine and Haiti, among others, causing international shame and diplomatic issues.
The streak of blunders did not stop even after the apology. When a Romanian player scored an own goal while playing against Korea in a football match on July 25, the broadcaster ran a caption that read, “Thank you.” When judo athlete An Chang-rim won a bronze, the commentator congratulated him but added “though the medal color is not what we wished for.” During a baseball game against Israel on July 26, it ran a caption that the game had ended although it was still ongoing. It raises questions if the TV station is running properly.
Over-eagerness in competing for viewership for major sports matches is part of its run of fouls. The outdated nationalism of regarding the Olympics as a contest among nations is another reason. Times have changed greatly. Under-20 athletes like Hwang Sun-woo (swimming), Kim Je-deok (archery) and Shin Yu-bin (table tennis) stood out for their cool and relaxed postures as well as their compassion for other players to show how much they enjoy their sport rather than winning the contest or a medal. The MBC controversy must be a wake-up call for sports broadcasting and society to shake themselbes out of their old mindset. The broadcasting company must discipline those responsible for the blunders and come up with preventive measures.