Go to contents

[Editorial] No Collusion Between KBS Chief and Union

Posted November. 25, 2009 08:47,   


Kim In-kyu, the newly appointed president of Korea’s leading broadcast network KBS, officially reported for duty despite protests by dozens of unionized employees. The KBS union said it will protect the broadcaster’s political neutrality by opposing Kim, who served as media adviser to Lee Myung-bak in his 2007 presidential campaign. Yet the union and former KBS presidents supported previous administrations.

While Kim’s role in President Lee’s election campaign could leave room for political interpretation, the process of his appointment was legitimate. The network’s board of directors, including four backed by opposition parties, formed an appointment committee through a consensus. The board selected Kim in a vote over four other candidates. KBS could lose public trust forever if the union acts against Kim to prevent him from implementing internal restructuring and he colludes with the union to maintain his job.

In his inauguration speech, Kim said that in order for KBS to become a solid public broadcaster, its biggest challenge is to increase the mandatory subscription fee and get viewers to pay fees. Broadcast law stipulates that KBS must realize its public responsibility, fairness and service for the public good. It is no exaggeration that under the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration, the KBS CEO and union did not fulfill their duties.

KBS failed to maintain fairness in reporting on the impeachment trial of the late President Roh Moo-hyun. It also aired a North Korean revolutionary song and misled the public by depicting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an anti-democratic and anti-free market dictator, as a role model.

One of Kim’s most important tasks is to make KBS a broadcaster that fulfills its public duty. His duty is to protect Korea’s identity as a liberal democracy and market economy under the Constitution and enhance the country’s integrity. He should ensure that KBS produces high-quality programs and helps enhance public culture by refining broadcast language. Last year, his predecessor, Lee Byung-soon, erased KBS’ deficit of 76.5 billion won (66 million U.S. dollars) within a year. Kim should also keep KBS in the black while implementing stringent restructuring and reform.

Viewers want Kim to become neither the government’s mouthpiece nor a prisoner of the union. He should remember that he and the network can survive only by thoroughly reforming KBS to make it a reliable broadcaster.