KBS president fights calls for his dismissal

Posted on : 2008-08-07 13:24 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Jung Yun-joo refutes BAI’s audit of KBS as unfair and accuses Lee administration of media suppression
 the president of the Korea Broadcasting System held a press conference at KBS headquarters on Yeouido on August 6
the president of the Korea Broadcasting System held a press conference at KBS headquarters on Yeouido on August 6

Korea Broadcasting System President Jung Yun-joo, who has been under pressure from the Board of Audit and Inspection to step down, said on August 6 that he will file a petition with the Seoul Administrative Court on August 7 to nullify the government auditor’s demand for his dismissal and determine the legitimacy of the demand, saying, “The BAI’s audit of KBS is full of lies, distortion and arbitrary interpretation.”

In a press conference held on August 6, Jung accused the administration of President Lee Myung-bak of attempting to tighten its grip on the media, by elaborating on why the BAI’s audit results were unfair and why a public broadcaster should be politically neutral. This is the first time Jung has publicly criticized the Lee administration for suppressing the media since the administration was inaugurated in February.

On the BAI’s audit results, Jung blamed the state auditor for inflating KBS’s net losses by doubling its penalty taxes in the wake of the tax probe and inflating KBS’s losses by converting its net profits into ordinary income and excluding the fiscal years in which the broadcaster reported a profit. In addition, Jung pointed out that the BAI had raised questions about his handling of personnel appointments, though he has hired talented people using legitimate hiring procedures.

In response to all of the criticism of KBS, Jung said, “Is there a bigger management achievement than being at the top in terms of influence and trustworthiness as a media organization? I feel proud that KBS employees have made a major efforts to achieve this,” Jung said.

Jung revealed that the BAI had taken extensive steps to find traces of corruption in his personal life. “Investigators summoned my driver for questioning several times and traced my credit card records. There was even talk that they had investigated mom-and-pop stores near my home. Nevertheless, it loos like they have failed to find my ‘personal corruption,’” Jung said, adding, “Paradoxically, the audit proved KBS’s transparency.”

Jung also emphasized why the tenure of KBS chiefs should be guaranteed. “The legal history surrounding the appointment of the KBS president can best be explained by the company’s evolution from a state-run broadcaster to a public broadcaster,” Jung said. “In order to guarantee the political neutrality of public broadcasters, the president’s power to dismiss (KBS presidents) was scrapped.

“As I did after May 17, 1980, I’m desperately praying for media freedom and democracy in the country,” Jung said, referring to Chun Doo-hwan’s coup d’etat. “Darkness could temporarily cover the sky and the land, but light will prevail in the end,” he said.

“Amid all of the groundless accusations and criticism, the only reason why I’m trying to retain this post is to see that the neutrality of public broadcasters is maintained,” Jung said. “If the KBS board directors makes a wrong decision, one that hurts the company’s independence, they will go down in history as sinners.”

Earlier in the day, Choi Si-jung, the chairman of the Korean Communications Commission, which regulates KBS, clarified that he will replace Jung at any cost. In a meeting with lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party, who visited the KCC offices to protest the Lee administration’s move to oust Jung, Choi said, “It cannot be denied that KBS is biased and that this is the mindset of the general public. As for KBS, there are problems whenever the administration changes and this situation is no different. It is my will to correct such things.”

On the evening of August 7, a coalition of some 470 civic groups plans to hold an overnight candlelight rally in front of KBS to call on the board of directors to cancel their meeting, which is scheduled for August 8.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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