It is just as expected. The programming on the four new general networks, which went on the air two days ago, is enough to resurrect fundamental questions about why they exist in the first place. They certainly showed no sign of the “broadcasting diversity” or “global competitiveness” that the networks and the Lee Myung-bak administration kept going on about. The programs were ostensibly an inaugural broadcast, but they came across as a pale imitation of terrestrial networks. The fact that after all the noisy promotion, only one of the four networks’ programs had an AGB Nielsen viewership rating of more than 1% is proof of the chilly response they received from viewers.
Meanwhile, the programming showed all the conservative slant and sensationalism one would expect from networks run by the Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, and Dong-A Ilbo. The interviews with Grand National Party (GNP) Lawmaker Park Geun-hye, run by all four networks, exemplify this. There is nothing wrong with interviewing Park per se, given that she is the leading contender to win the GNP nod as a candidate in next year’s presidential election. But no sensible network should sacrifice the principles of fairness and public service. During the interviews, no aggressive questions were asked of the former GNP chairwoman. Instead, they were all about communicating her political ambitions or satisfying viewer curiosity about her private life.
In particular, TV Chosun’s caption to an image of Park, reading, “An aura like 100 fluorescent light bulbs,” will long be remembered in South Korean media history as an embarrassing exercise in hyperbole. MBN also unreservedly extolled Park in a caption reading, “You and your beautiful smile. May it change the future of the Republic of Korea.”
Channel A has already drawn fire for an “exclusive” video of Kang Ho-dong attending a gathering of the “Chil Sung Pa”, a South Korean gang group, and “Yakuza,” which critics are calling the epitome of sensationalism. This report in question strongly suggested that a dinner Kang attended with a leader from his 12th grade wrestling team was in reality a kind of gang ritual. Some Internet users even questioned whether this was not revenge against the currently retired wrestler for not appearing on the general programming networks.
Meanwhile, the Chosun Ilbo was humiliated for making a front-page announcement two days ago that Kim Yu-na would be serving as anchor for the nine o’clock news on TV Chosun. The situation was such that Kim’s agency was compelled to issue a press release titled, “Rumors of Kim Yu-na Being Hired as a General Programmer News Anchor Are Ludicrous.”
From their very first broadcasts, these networks have failed to show any sense of public responsibility as mass media. There was one accident after another, with scenes getting cut off and the like, and the networks padded their time with rebroadcasts. Given how hastily and recklessly the Lee administration and media clans set them up, it is no wonder the broadcasts have been this low-quality and shoddy.
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