IFJ Welcomes YTN’s Promise of Editorial Independence

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes an agreement between staff

and management at South

Korea’s YTN to resolve a 259-day dispute

over editorial independence at the broadcaster.

 

On

April 1, staff representatives and YTN management concluded five days of closed-door

negotiations with a nine-point agreement, under which both sides will seek to

develop and implement a code for editorial independence at the broadcaster,

according to the Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK).

 

“The

IFJ trusts that YTN’s management has acknowledged the primary importance of

editorial integrity and quality to journalists and media workers who have shown

such commitment to promoting excellence in their profession and to upholding

the democratic values of press freedom,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

According

to JAK, an IFJ affiliate, YTN managers pledged to cancel all legal complaints

against staff members, while the union will withdraw all complaints but one

regarding dismissal and disciplinary measures taken against staff during the

eight-month dispute.

 

However,

decisions on the reinstatement of six sacked journalists will be left to the

courts, while the staff understand that salaries will be frozen for 12 months.

 

The

union ended an 11-day strike today and agreed not to harass YTN’s president, Gu

Bon-Hong. Last year’s appointment of Gu, a former aide to South Korean President

Myung-Bak Lee, had triggered concerns about potential political influence on

the broadcaster.

 

“We

look forward now to seeing YTN management show good faith by acting quickly to reinstate

all sacked workers and to ensure the withdrawal of all legal cases and

disciplinary penalties imposed on YTN staff over the past eight months. This step

will set a standard by which press freedom advocates can evaluate press freedom

in South Korea,”

Park said.

 

As

a result of the anticipated withdrawal of YTN’s complaints, it is expected that

YTN union chairman Jong-Myun Roh will be released today from a detention

facility near Seoul.

He has been detained for 12 days since being arrested ahead of the union’s strike

action.

 

However,

it is unclear whether the case against Roh will be fully closed.

 

“YTN

workers are to be commended for their long struggle in defence of editorial

integrity and journalistic quality in South Korea,” Park said.

 

“The

IFJ remains prepared to assist YTN staff and management in developing a charter

of editorial independence and professionalism for YTN, and acting as a mediator

in event of disagreements.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents over

600,000 journalists in 120 countries

worldwide