Go to contents

[Op-Ed] Manipulation of Opinion Polls

Posted March. 10, 2009 03:07,   


A poll asks, “What do you think of the ruling Grand National Party’s revision bill to the Broadcasting Act, which would allow conglomerates and large newspaper companies to own terrestrial TV stations?” The choices are: ① I oppose the bill since chaebol (conglomerates) and those in power can control broadcasters; ② I support the bill since it can boost the competitiveness of the media industry; and ③ I don’t know. The question uses the terms “conglomerates and newspaper companies” but the choices include negative words such as “chaebol and those in power.” Even if a respondent does not pick the first choice, he or she gets the impression that the bill is meant to allow those in power to seize the broadcast sector. This question and answer choices were in a survey conducted by MBC via Korea Research in December last year.

The brain cannot store information as orderly as computer hardware does. Information is initially sent to the hippocampus and overlaps repeatedly whenever the person recalls related issues, then is separated from the original before being sent to the cerebral cortex. Hence, a person develops “source amentia,” or uncertainty over where he or she heard certain information or where the data came from. This is why when one hears a lie repeatedly, whether it is the truth or not becomes unclear. Hence, propaganda or brainwashing is possible through measures disguised as opinion polls.

In another survey conducted by Media Today and Hangil Research in the same month, a question read, “What do you think about the bill that seeks to allow the Chosun Ilbo, the Joongang Ilbo and The Dong-A Ilbo to own broadcasters such as KBS or MBC, and broadcast news services?” The wording in the question “allow newspapers to own and send news services” obviously suggests bias by the pollster against the bill. Majority stakeholders of Media Today are the MBC union and the National Union of Media Workers. After all, the network conducted biased media polls to keep its monopoly in broadcasting on top of airing biased reports.

In a meeting of a committee on the reform and advancement of legal institutions hosted by the Korea Communications Commission Friday, lawyer Lee Yeong-sam said, “Even if deregulation allows a newspaper company to own 20 percent of a broadcaster as sought by the revision bill, the revised rule is stricter than those in Britain and Germany.” Nevertheless, MBC manipulated opinion polls to maintain the status quo in the broadcast sector, allowing the union to do whatever it wants without supervision. Yet the broadcaster is legally a public entity. MBC swayed the country with false news reports, so is it an organization that never reflects on its own misdeeds while manipulating opinion polls to deceive the public?

Editorial Writer Kim Soon-deok (yuri@donga.com)