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Apology from MBC is Not Enough

Posted December. 06, 2005 06:47,   


The Korean Broadcasting Commission and the Foundation of Broadcast Culture, the largest shareholder of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), are looking into intimidations used by the staff of “PD Diary,” a weekly television investigative documentary program of MBC. Meanwhile, critical opinion is spreading among the public. Some netizens are calling on MBC programs’ sponsors to pull their advertising. ▶related articles on A4, A5 and A6

At 4:00 a.m. on December 5, the Foundation of Broadcast Culture held an emergency board meeting. The board meeting summoned Choi Mun-sun, the president of MBC, and heard testimony from him of how the PD Diary staff interviewed and intimidated the research team members of Hwang Woo-suk, a chair professor at the Seoul National University.

Board members are said to have grilled Choi with questions such as the type of intimidations made when the PD Diary’s members interviewed Kim Seon-jong and Park Jong-hyuk, researchers who were at the University of Pittsburgh at that time, and why those up the chain of command were not informed of them.

However, it is reported that the action to take on president Choi was not discussed in that meeting.

The Korean Broadcasting Commission (chairman Roh Seong-dae) held an emergency meeting on December 5 and decided to have a deliberation on December 8 on whether any coercive measures or surreptitious cameras were used when “PD Diary: the Myth of Hwang Woo-suk and Suspicions over Eggs,” aired on November 22, was made.

In particular, the Korean Broadcasting Commission will check whether intimidations were used when the PD Diary team interviewed researcher P, who, the program said, provided her eggs for Hwang’s research, and after that, the commission will have discussion on whether to discipline those responsible or not.

MBC announced that instead of airing “PD Diary” on December 6, it will air “Symbiosis and Parasitism,” a nature documentary program.

On December 4, MBC announced its statement of apology to the people. However, it seems that critical voices of citizens are spreading both on- and off-line.

The one-person, silent demonstration which started late last month in front of the MBC building in Yeouido, Seoul, spread to Busan, Daejeon, and Cheonan of the South Chungcheong Province on December 5.

On the MBC home page and portal sites, netizens are waging a campaign called, “Pull Advertising from the News Desk.” One reply to a posting on one of the sites reads, “Let’s call on the sponsors of related programs to pull their advertising until the staff of PD Diary and the president of MBC resign.”

Some netizens put up postings that read, “MBC trifled with the people by announcing its decision to leave PD Diary for a while just right after it aired the statement of apology,” and read, “Immediately stop the assistance to MBC that it receives as a state-run broadcaster and withdraw from it the rights to the airwave channels.”

Meanwhile, President Roh Moo-hyun said in the Chief Advisors’ Meeting held on December 5, “I wish there will be no more controversies over a verification of research results of professor Hwang’s team,” adding, “I expect we will come to know whether professor Hwang’s research is veritable or false during his future experiments.”

Kim Man-soo, the spokesman for Cheong Wa Dae, stated that President Roh said, “The government will continue financing the research so that professor Hwang’s stem cells team will go on without disruptions.”

The Ministry of Science and Technology announced on December 5, “We urge those who engage in wasteful debates over the results of professor Hwang Woo-suk’s team’s research on embryonic stem cells to stop doing so.”

It was the first official statement from the government on the recent controversies over the verity of Hwang’s research.