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(2nd LD) MBC's largest shareholder decides to sack company president

2017/11/13 17:32

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(ATTN: UPATES with MBC union's plan to end strike on Wednesday, quotes from Kim and union officials in paras 5, 7-11)

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- The largest shareholder of the nation's second largest public broadcaster Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) on Monday voted to fire the company president Kim Jang-kyom for his "politically biased" control of the company's news coverage.

The Foundation for Broadcast Culture (FBC) passed a motion on the dismissal of Kim through its eighth extraordinary board meeting in Seoul. Of six FBC board members present, five voted in favor of the motion with one abstention.

The five members affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party submitted the motion on Nov. 1, holding Kim responsible for the company management's unfair labor practices and meddling in news production in favor of the former conservative Park Geun-hye government, among other reasons. The foundation commands a 70 percent stake in the broadcaster.

But MBC needs approval from its shareholders to formally sack him.

Lee Wan-gi, chairman of the board of the Foundation for Broadcast Culture, presides over the foundation's eighth extraordinary board meeting to discuss whether to dismiss MBC president Kim Jang-kyom at its office in Seoul on Nov. 13, 2017. (Yonhap) Lee Wan-gi, chairman of the board of the Foundation for Broadcast Culture, presides over the foundation's eighth extraordinary board meeting to discuss whether to dismiss MBC president Kim Jang-kyom at its office in Seoul on Nov. 13, 2017. (Yonhap)

The FBC demanded his participation in the meeting to directly hear from him but he did not appear, citing a possible protest from MBC unionists. Also absent from the meeting were three board members affiliated with opposition parties.

About 2,000 MBC unionists are on strike for a third month demanding Kim's resignation and the restoration of the network's independence and fair reporting.

Kim said he hopes himself to be the last victim of the incumbent government's "control of public broadcasters and oppression of journalism."

   "I bitterly realized that the government's control of public broadcasters is really persistent," he said in a press statement released shortly after the FBC decision. "I'm sorry for failing to keep MBC's independence from those in power."

   Following the vote, the union announced a plan to return to work Wednesday.

"We're going to have the last rally wrapping up the strike tomorrow and go back to work on Wednesday," the union said. "We will end the strike but switch to a mode of refusing to produce programs."

   Union officials say they will normalize television dramas and entertainment shows in steps, but news programs will remain to be disrupted for the time being. They added they don't know yet what entertainment programs will resume when.

sshim@yna.co.kr

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