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Journalists' union leader released as deal reached at troubled TV news station

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that an agreement has been reached that should end a year-long dispute between the management and journalists' union at TV news station YTN. As a result of the deal, the head of the journalists' union, Jong-Myun Roh, was released from detention on 2 April 2009 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 will 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 part in protests in defense of the station's editorial freedom, as long as they did not participate in any acts of violence," the press freedom organisation added.

Under the agreement signed by the leadership of the journalists' union on 1 April, management must withdraw all complaints brought against journalists, while the union must do the same. This has already led to the release of union head Jong-Myun Roh, who was arrested along with three other journalists on 22 March.

The head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk met with Jong-Myun 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 withdraw their complaint against the journalists responsible for the investigative programme PD Note, on public TV station MBC. The case has been seen as a blot on press freedom in South Korea.

Updates alerts on the broadcasters' strike: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/102021

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