December 14, 2022
SEOUL – TBS is cancelling three shows hosted by left-leaning figures, including its most-listened-to program, as the Seoul city-funded ratio station seeks to shake off accusations of political bias in the face of a severe funding cut.
The shows’ hosts shared the news on their programs which aired Monday.
Kim Eo-joon, host of the top-ranked “News Factory,” said that he will host the show for three more weeks before the program closes at the end of this year.
Later in the day, two others — Shin Jang-shik, lawyer and former secretary-general of the far-left Justice Party, and journalist Joo Jin-woo – also announced that Dec. 30 will be the last day of their programs.
“I’ve been doing this show for six years, two months and 15 days,” said Kim, adding that he will discuss the reasons for the show’s closure at a later time.
Kim, Shin and Joo, who are outspoken liberals, have hosted their popular radio shows since September 2016, August 2021 and September 2019, respectively.
Despite high ratings, the three shows have been criticized for political bias.
TBS has been thrown into a major funding crisis after the right-wing People Power Party took the mayorship through a 2020 by-election, and then control of the city council in local elections earlier this year.
Since taking office in 2020, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has contended that TBS, or the Traffic Broadcasting System, was outdated and should be transformed into an educational broadcaster.
Last month, the Seoul city council passed a bill that would end the city’s funding for TBS from Jan. 1, 2024, which accounts for about 70 percent of the broadcaster’s budget.
The city government has also decided to cut its funding next year to 23.2 billion won, which is 8.8 billion won less than this year’s.
Shin and Joo expressed grievances at their shows’ closure.
“In this situation where the rights of TBS workers have been taken hostage, it was a choice to first save the hostages,” Shin said.
Joo said he will remember Mayor Oh as the central figure in “this suppression of the press.”