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[Editorial] Government Supports KBS Plan to Increase Fees

[Editorial] Government Supports KBS Plan to Increase Fees

Posted May. 09, 2007 09:04,   


The Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) is again planning to increase TV subscription fees, and the Korean government appears to support the plan. The Digital Broadcasting Special Bill, drafted by the government last month, includes an increase in KBS subscription fees and approval for commercials in the middle of programs.

The government said that it considered KBS’ financial burden from the digital broadcasting transition. In short, the government seems to be paving the way for the state-run broadcaster to maximize its profits.

The government’s move is not convincing given KBS’ lax management and poor performance. On May 9, KBS started a nationwide survey on its increase in subscription fees. The government is expected to complete the plan by introducing the bill as late as September during the regular session of the National Assembly. Both sides appear to be working together.

This move is shameful for a public broadcaster that is a self-described ‘company for the public.’ According to KBS polls in 2004, 72 percent of Koreans opposed an increase in subscription fees. Since the participatory government was sworn in, KBS’ biased and poor management has not gotten better at all. Koreans may be still unsatisfied even if KBS corrects its misbehavior and reduces its fees. But KBS provides services favoring the Roh administration and subsequently gets support from it, which shows an old-fashioned and collusive relationship between media and government.

KBS’ digitalization costs have nothing to do with the public. Recently, KBS increased its directors’ expenditures by 100 percent. Last year, its budget was apparently in the black. But it actually had a 21.4 billion deficit after considering the deduction of corporate tax refunds.

The public should not be responsible for poor management. KBS should streamline its businesses and cover costs.

The rise in fees brings speculation that KBS is taking advantage of the social atmosphere that is generally confused in the face of the upcoming presidential election late this year. Many people question whether the broadcaster will remain fair or not. An unbiased broadcast of the election will be the only way KBS can make up for misbehavior. By any standard, increasing fees is not right.