The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday levied a $10,000 fine against Southern California television station KSCI-TV for failing to identify the South Korean government as the true sponsor of Korean-language programming on the station.
The independent station (Channel 18) has 30 days to pay the fine or to show cause why it should not. There was no immediate word from station officials as to which they intend to do.
The station reportedly was informed of the fine last week in a letter made public by the FCC on Wednesday. The action was the result of a complaint filed on behalf of the Korean-American Free Press Committee, a group of Los Angeles Korean-Americans, by the Media Access Project, a public-interest law firm in Washington.
The complainants charged that KSCI-TV violated federal communications rules by failing to inform viewers that Korean Television Enterprises, a Los Angeles-based corporation that supplies much of the 12 hours of Korean-language programming on the station each week, is a subsidiary of the Korean Broadcasting System.
Jhanggil Song, executive managing director of Korean Television Enterprises, acknowledged in March that it is owned by the Korean Broadcasting Service, which is South Korea's equivalent of the British Broadcasting Corp.
KSCI, headquartered in Los Angeles with a broadcasting facility in San Bernardino, sells blocks of time for programs in more than a dozen languages. Station officials have denied the charge by the public-interest law firm that it does not exercise enough control over its foreign-language programs.
The protesting group said the programming contains South Korean government propaganda and that the programs supplied by Korean Television Enterprises to KSCI exclude news events that do not portray the South Korean government favorably.
In notifying KSCI of the fine, the FCC cited a March, 1983, proposed agreement between KSCI and the Korean producers. It stated that the involvement of the Korean Broadcasting System "will appear to be minimal to the general public in order to avoid the impression of foreign intervention in local U.S. broadcasting."