UNI Global Union media, entertainment and arts representatives joined the South Korean branch of the National Union of Media Workers (NUMW) at a press conference in Seoul today to call on the Korean government to work with the country’s unions to stop attacks on public broadcasting and press freedom. .
After right-wing President Yoon Suk-yeol came to power a year ago, the government illegally removed public broadcaster executives to ensure its preferred candidate was elected by the Commission’s Korea Communications Commission (KCC), which oversees public broadcasters. .
The KCC is now proposing a “fake news eradication plan” that would allow the government to censor news channels arbitrarily as “fake news”. The commission can shut down news stations using the “one-strike” rule.
NUMW says the government is also weakening public broadcasting by separating the public TV subscription fee from electricity for the first time in nearly 30 years, leaving people with the option of opting out. Dwindling resources will affect the quality of public service broadcasting and its journalistic capacity. This could create a situation where public information is only available through commercial channels, instead of public broadcasters whose mission is to provide independent information.
At the same time, the government is seeking to sell shares in the 24-hour news channel YTN, which could further threaten press freedom by putting more media in the hands of government sponsors. NUMW accuses the government of seeking to transfer a public asset with a stable audience and recognition to private operators who will benefit from its patronage and therefore be more inclined to support the government than provide balanced information to the Korean people.
A joint statement from NUMW and UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts was released:
“The South Korean government’s media policies, which seek to make the media the enemy, undermine freedom of expression, and increase its popularity by silencing critical reporting, herald the decline of Korean democracy, which has been a model of democracy in Asia.”
“We strongly condemn the Korean government, which runs like a train without brakes to control the media. We strongly support the fight of honest Korean citizens and media workers for freedom of speech and press democracy. Until this fight is won, media workers everywhere will stand in solidarity.”
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