The Korea Herald


KBS employees demand CEO’s resignation amid fee collection controversy

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : June 20, 2023 - 18:36

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Kim Eui-cheol, CEO of public broadcaster KBS, speaks during a press conference at KBS Hall in Seoul, June 8. (Yonhap) Kim Eui-cheol, CEO of public broadcaster KBS, speaks during a press conference at KBS Hall in Seoul, June 8. (Yonhap)

More than 1,000 KBS employees on Tuesday have demanded the resignation of CEO Kim Eui-cheol and the board of directors.

The call for change comes as the broadcaster is expected to face a severe financial crisis when a relevant enforcement ordinance is amended for a separate collection of TV license fees.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Joint Committee for KBS Employees and Broadcasters for the New KBS said they collected signatures from 1,080 employees calling for the resignation of Kim and the board of directors. The committee is formed of KBS employees from two of its three labor unions -- Korean Broadcasting System Union and the Federation of Korean Journalists -- which are seen as conservative-leaning factions within the organization.

This is the first time in the history of KBS that such a large number of employees have rallied to express their discontent, according to the committee

“The ongoing revision to separate the collection of television license fees from electricity bills is underway,” the committee said in the statement.

“CEO Kim has been ineffective as a manager, and has not stopped biased broadcasting.”

“Kim lacks the abilities to resolve the current crisis,” it went on to say.

The committee further said, “(the board of directors) should take responsibility for their inability to curb Kim’s unfair broadcasting practices and ineffective management.”

Earlier this month, the presidential office recommended the Korea Communications Commission, the state broadcasting watchdog, to collect license fees for state broadcaster KBS separately from the electricity bill.

KBS has charged a monthly fee of 2,500 won to all households as part of their electricity bills since 1994. The fee has been collected by the state-run utility Korea Electric Power.

If the fee is separated from the electricity bills, it is expected that many households will refuse to pay the monthly fee, leaving KBS without a key source of income.

Meanwhile, a separate concern group, whose name directly translates as KBS Reform National Headquarters, also issued a statement Tuesday echoing the demand for CEO Kim's resignation. The group consists of former and current journalists, members of the academia and more.

The organization criticized Kim for refusing to resign, and hit out at his "absurd logic that he is the last stronghold safeguarding KBS' independence.” It called on Kim to "take full responsibility for the current situation.”

Kim, who was appointed by the previous Moon Jae-in administration, has said on June 8 that he will resign if the government withdraws its decision to proceed with the separate collection of TV license fees.