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[Opinion] Regrettable Korean Broadcasting Commission

Posted July. 11, 2004 22:28,   


The KBC (Korean Broadcasting Commission) has come under fire from the public after deciding to dismiss an inquiry on the broadcasting of impeachment. There are two issues at the core of the controversy. The first is whether the broadcasting of impeachment can be subject to an inquiry, and the second is why the KBC decided to dismiss the inquiry three months after the KSJCS (Korean Society for Journalism and Communication Studies) finished its assigned task.

Regarding the first issue, the KBC in reality made two decisions. The first decision was made in late March: the fact that the KBC requested the KSJCS to investigate the broadcasts indicates that the KBC presumed that broadcasting of impeachment was subject to inquiry. Nevertheless, after the results of the KSJCS’s investigation were presented in mid-June, the KBC reversed its decision, citing the rules of inquiry. However, if this explanation is accepted, then it can only be concluded that KBC members do not even have the most basic knowledge of their work. How can this be? Considering the KBC dismissed the inquiry after reading the report, one can suspect that the conclusion of the report written by the KSJCS was a reason for the KBC to change opinions. This gives the impression that the KBC used the KSJCS to avoid sensitive issues and buy time until the end of the general elections and the verdict on impeachment.

The KBC displays its leadership through moral authority, which derives from expertise, diversity and transparency. Gaining confidence from the Korean people, the KBC has functioned as a fortress defending broadcasting’s fairness. The commission members were selected at the recommendation of the president and political parties, but the Korean people do not want to see the KBC help the interests of particular political parties. Furthermore, the members are not treated as ministers and deputy ministers, just to overlook key issues as if nothing happened.

There are about 370 national commissions in Korea. Sixty-two of those are managed directly by the president, while around 310 are managed by ministries. I want to believe that these commissions will contribute to the establishment of a democratic political culture. However, on top of KBC’s decision, the Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths has declared North Korean spies as contributors to democracy, sparking up more controversy. Are our commissions really functioning as they are supposed to? Or should we make a commission to reconsider commissions?

Lee Jae-Kyoung, Guest Editorialist, Ewha Womans University Journalism Professor