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[Newsmaker] MBC chief faces music after disputes

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Published : 2013-03-27 20:38
Updated : 2013-03-27 21:00

Is he a martyr for the previous administration’s broadcasting policy or a tyrant facing the music for his authoritarianism?

Kim Jae-chul, who resigned on Wednesday after being voted out as chief of the state-subsidized broadcasting network MBC on Tuesday by the board of the broadcaster’s majority shareholder, Foundation for Broadcast Culture, had been at the center of controversy from the day he took charge at MBC in February 2010.

Kim’s appointment was labeled “Lee Myung-bak cronyism” as he had served as a media adviser for the former president during his election campaign. 
Kim Jae-chul

Kim is alleged to have blocked the airing of items that were critical of Lee and his administration.

In 2012, thousands of MBC union members staged a strike against Kim’s interference in news coverage, a strike that lasted for 170 days, the longest in the media company’s history. During Kim’s term, the union revealed allegations of an extramarital affair, an affair that was said to have been sustained by MBC funds, and influence-peddling for his suspected mistress. The Prosecutors’ Office has started an investigation into alleged breach of duty by Kim involving his suspected girlfriend.

After the unionists ended their sit-in, Kim filed a suit against the unionized workers for 19.5 billion won in damages, fired eight people held responsible and disciplined 200 more. Last year, the court fined him for refusing to show up at the National Assembly’s annual audit and public hearing.

Despite the fact that MBC marked 900 billion won in revenue in 2011, its highest ever, it was widely predicted that Kim would be the first person to be sacked under the new Park Geun-hye government for his alleged close connection with Lee. Park previously said she would replace public organization heads with people who shared her philosophy in administration.

Kim’s March 22 nomination of executives that had not been consulted on with the FBC gave the management an excuse to fire him, observers said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)

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