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[Opinion] EBS Going Around in Circles

Posted October. 14, 2003 22:56,   


One of biggest changes on television under the Roh administration is its escalating attacks on newspapers. During the Kim Dae-jung administration, MBC was at the front of the attack. Now it is in KBS’ turn. Even communication and journalism scholars say that they may need to report to the world journalism circle that television now has a new function besides education and entertainment. The new function will be “criticizing newspapers.” Since it is an unprecedented phenomenon worldwide, they sarcastically say that it is worthy to report. Journalists in advanced nations cannot understand why in Korea, certain newspapers which criticize government’s wrongdoings are under attack by the media. Sadly, newspapers unfriendly to the government have become a perfect “chewing gum” for Korean broadcasters.

Some have even interpreted Korean broadcasters’ attack on newspapers as an outcome of inferiority complex about what they did in the past. The analysis reminded me of television news reporters desperately looking for eminent scholars or economics gurus who would give favorable comments about the government whenever the government unveils policies or when the president visits foreign nations in the 1980s. Stone throwing at broadcasting vehicles on campus was a common scene at that time. The reporters in the 1980s are now senior executives in broadcasting corporations. Did they really forget what they did last summer? I wonder what the same broadcasting corporations will do a few years later when they are confronted by the next administration.

The newly launched program titled “Clear View on Media” at the state-run education broadcasting network (EBS), joined the broadcaster camp against certain newspapers. It perplexed audience who loved EBS’ classy cultural programs and educational documentary films. Only 0.2 percent of the people have turned out to have watched the program last week. The poor ratings were mainly due to distortions and accusations on certain newspapers and unprofessional attitudes of anchors on highly controversial political issues. Apparently, EBS needs to rename the program “Biased views on the media” or “Overbalancing views on the media.”

Education on media can be included as an arena of television broadcasting. The education however, has to be about characteristics and savvy uses of mass media. On top of this, the government-owned EBS station was established to help young generations obtain healthy views and ideas. In this regard, the choice in wrong station leads to self-denial and an act of arrogance. EBS, take off the hat that does not go with your suit.

Oh Myung-chul, editorial writer oscar@donga.com