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South Korea 2 April 2009

Management and union reach deal at troubled TV news station

Reporters Without Borders is very relieved to learn that an agreement has been reached that should end a year-long dispute between the management and journalists’ union at state-owned TV news station YTN. As a result of the deal, the head of the journalists’ union, Jong-Myun Roh, was released today from detention and the journalists ended a 10-day strike.

At the same time, YTN chairman Gu Bon-hong, a close associate of President Lee Myung-bak, has been confirmed in his post.

Reporters Without Borders calls on all the parties to begin a constructive dialogue aimed at adopting mechanisms that provide long-term protection for the editorial independence of YTN’s journalists.

“It is also important to reinstate the journalists who were fired for taking parting in protests in defence of the station’s editorial freedom, as long as they did participate in any acts of violence,” the press freedom organisation added.

Under the agreement signed yesterday by the leadership of the journalists’ union, the management is supposed to withdraw the complaints it brought against journalists while the union is supposed to withdraw its own complaints. This has already led to the release of the head of the union, Roh, who was arrested along with three other journalists on 22 March.

The head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk met Roh on 23 March, while he was held in a Seoul police station. The press freedom organisation issued a call at the time for an agreement that would protect the TV station’s editorial independence.

Reporters Without Borders also urges the former agriculture minister and his deputy to follow the example of the YTN accord and to withdraw their complaint against the journalists responsible for the investigative programme PD Note on public TV station MBC, which has also been posing a threat to press freedom in South Korea.

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