International Broadcast Executives Raise Alarm Over KBS Financial Amendments

korean broadcasting system
korean broadcasting system
Credit: KBS

On June 22nd, a joint statement was released by major global public networks including the UK’s BBC, France Télévisions, and Germany’s ZDF, expressing concern about changes to the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) funding mechanism. The group fears that the Korean government’s amendment to a regulatory enforcement decree could undermine the financial and operational viability of South Korea’s public broadcaster.


The Global Task Force for Public Media (GTF), a consultative body comprising the heads of eight major world public broadcasters, warned in their statement that if the enforcement decree is amended, “KBS would suffer severe financial damage and become unable to fulfill its public duties, putting the programs and services it provides to Koreans at risk.” They also expressed concern that the “foundation of public broadcasting in Korea would be destabilized.” The GTF, formed in 2020, includes KBS, BBC, France Télévisions, ZDF, Australia’s ABC, Canada’s CBC/Radio-Canada, Sweden’s SVT, and New Zealand’s RNZ.

Catherine Tait, the CEO of CBC, stated that the success of public broadcasting “depends on sustainable public funding that supports and respects organizational and editorial independence.” She added, “We hope that KBS’s financial stability and operations can be ensured so that its public responsibilities can continue to be performed within the Korean context.”

The heads of the networks stressed that “at a time when disinformation and opinion polarization are worsening, many public broadcasters are facing significant threats,” adding that now is not the time to weaken public broadcasting, “one of the strongest pillars of democracy.”

Choi Seon Wook, KBS’s head of strategic planning, expressed his concern that if the government proceeds with the presidential decree hastily without sufficient social discussion, “it will cause significant social confusion among nearly 20 million households that pay the reception fee.”

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) announced a legislative notice of the amendment to the Broadcasting Act enforcement decree on the 16th. The main idea of it is to prevent entities, entrusted with the task of collecting TV broadcasting reception fees, from combining this task with their primary duties. While the usual legislative notice period is over 40 days, the KCC shortened this to 10 days by considering this amendment as an urgent matter.

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