KOREA: KBS network faces audit

Three conservative civic groups accuse KBS, Korea's largest television and radio network, of mismanagement and improper personnel appointment

The Korea Times
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

By Michael Ha

The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) will conduct a special audit to scrutinize financial management at the state-run Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), a BAI spokesman said.

The audit could begin as early as next month, according to the BAI. It would be the first comprehensive audit for the broadcaster in four years.

The BAI made the decision following a meeting Thursday to review a request for an audit. Three conservative civic groups -- including the National Action Campaign for Freedom and Democracy in Korea and the New Right United -- had filed a petition on May 15 to the board to consider an audit for the network.

Additionally, KBS President and Chief Executive Officer Jung Yun-joo has also been facing pressure to resign from his post. The President appoints the KBS president-CEO, following the recommendation of KBS board directors.

Jung was first named as the network's president in 2003. Then-President Roh Moo-hyun reappointed Jung for another three-year term in 2006. However, a number of KBS board directors have reportedly been trying to adopt a measure urging Jung to leave the post.

The conservative groups alleged KBS of several misconducts including incompetent management which resulted in the accumulating financial deficit, favoritism in personnel appointments and partisan coverage of the U.S. beef import controversy.

Under law, if groups of more than 300 citizens petition for an audit involving a government entity, the BAI is required to convene a meeting and decide on the issue within two months of receiving the request.

KBS is Korea's largest television and radio network. It receives more than a third of its annual revenue from public funding and television licensing fees paid by the public.

One senior BAI official told Yonhap News Agency that this may be an appropriate time to conduct an audit since the network hasn't faced a comprehensive inspection since 2004.

He acknowledged there have been allegations of poor financial management and that the audit board should take this opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of KBS business practices.