KBS President has harsh words for labor unions
Posted on : May.22,2014 16:03 KST
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Members of the KBS Reporters Association shout slogans during a protest calling for President Gil Hwan-young to resign, in a stairwell at KBS headquarters in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood, May 21. The signs read “We will reflect” and “We will make things right at KBS”. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
Gil Hwan-young accuses unions of “politically motivated demagoguery” as production boycott continues
By Lee Jung-gook and Kim Hyo-sil, staff reporters
On May 21, KBS President Gil Hwan-young made clear that he plans to hold the labor union accountable for its illegal instigation, saying that he will fight calls for him to step down. In response, the KBS Reporters Association, which is refusing to produce new programs, decided to use its fact-finding team to investigate the Blue House putting pressure on KBS and controlling reporting.
“I have never given specific directions about 9 O’clock News. I have also never received a phone call from the Blue House about reporting,” Gil said in a special statement broadcast over the public address system at KBS headquarters. In the statement, he repeatedly denied allegations that the Blue House had been controlling KBS reports.
On May 19 – ten days after former newsroom chief Kim Si-gon began making bombshell revelations on May 9 – Gil Hwan-young held a press conference rejecting Kim’s claims.
Gil dismissed calls for his resignation as “politically motivated demagoguery.” Referring to the strike that the labor union is considering as “illegal,” he said that he would “never step down because of politically-motivated instigation and violence.”
“I want to send a stern warning to the “New Union” and KBS 1 union. I will punish demagoguery and other illegal behavior more strictly than any other company president,” Gil said. At the same time, he suggested that the labor union hold a meeting of the Fair Broadcasting Committee, which he would preside over.
After Gil released the statement, the KBS chapter of the National Union of Media Workers (New Union) issued a statement in rebuttal. “Gil Hwan-young is accusing the two labor unions that are calling for his resignation of ‘political instigation,’” the statement said, referring to Gil’s objections to the unions’ plans to hold a vote on the strike. “In fact, the most political person at KBS is Gil. If Gil steps down, we will call off the vote on the strike at once.” The “New Union” and KBS 1 union started the vote about a total strike on May 21.
On the afternoon of May 21, the KBS Reporters Association held an emergency general meeting to discuss what actions they should take in the future. Currently, more than 90% of the association’s total 500 members are united in refusing to produce new programs. The association announced that it would use the fact-finding team that it had formed on May 19 to investigate the claims made by Kim Si-gon about interference in KBS reports. It also voiced suspicions that as well as from Kim, Gil had received news cue sheets beforehand from another secret channel.
On the night of May 21, the KBS Board of Directors held a meeting where they debated the issue of Gil Hwan-young’s possible dismissal. They agreed to hold an official discussion on the topic on May 26, and that Gil will have a chance to explain himself.
“Lee Jeong-hyun, public relations secretary for the Blue House, and KBS President Gil Young-hwan violated the Broadcasting Act and committed crimes including overstepping their authority and preventing people from exercising their rights,” the Center for Media Responsibility and Human Rights said in a request for investigation that it filed with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office on May 21.

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