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[Editorial] Fair Selection of New KBS President

Posted August. 23, 2008 07:40,   


We express regret over a Sunday meeting among presidential chief of staff Chung Chung-kil, presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan, Korean Communications Commission Chairman Choi Si-jung and Korean Broadcasting System Chairman of the Board Yoo Jae-cheon over the selection of the new KBS president. Among the participants was a strong candidate for the position among five candidates nominated by the KBS board. Lee said, “The meeting was for getting advice from senior members, not for intervention in the selection.” The explanation, however, doesn’t sound convincing since this could mean they did not figure out the problems of the public network until the run-up to the selection for a new head.

Under broadcast law, broadcasters cannot air biased or unfair opinions from certain interest groups, including the government. In this sense, the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae could become a target of unjust and ideological broadcasting. In addition, the chairman of the board should exercise his independent right to nominate the next president in consultation with board members. In this vein, the meeting with a certain candidate attending with presidential officials is suspicious enough to raise question whether the administration is trying to control the public broadcaster by putting a supporter in charge.

The KBS board of directors asked President Lee Myung-bak to fire KBS President Jung Yun-joo, whose term had time remaining, for mismanagement and biased and lop-sided broadcasting under the former Roh Moo-hyun administration. What counts is that Jung`s dismissal cannot be justified if he was dismissed to make way for a crony of the administration. The nation and the people wonder if the next KBS head will be competent enough to carry out long-waited restructuring and restore fair broadcasting.

The KBS union has obstructed the selection process to prevent "parachute personnel" from being appointed. It is acting as if the network is their property and has shown an immature and imprudent behavior due to group selfishness and moral hazard. Union members resorting to violence to get their message across should be the first target of reform for the next KBS president.

The owners of the public network are not the government, the employees and news media, but the people who pay taxes and subscription fees. The union must stop its illegal activities to hamper the selection process. For its part, the presidential office should also leave the board of directors alone until they recommend a candidate to the president.