Top court rules in favor of MBC for 'US beef' show
By Yun Suh-young
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a broadcasting company cannot be held responsible for causing psychological damage to citizens who watch its programs.
The court upheld a lower court decision that dismissed a claim by 2,400 citizens in a collective action suit against MBC, one of the nation’s three major broadcasting stations, for causing damage and inconvenience due to its program on mad cow disease.
MBC aired “U.S. beef — is it safe from mad cow disease?” in 2009 on PD Notebook, a program analyzing current issues. The program caused a stir nationwide because it portrayed a “downer” cow in the U.S. as one with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), colloquially known as mad cow disease.
The plaintiffs requested that the broadcasting company pay 1 million won per plaintiff claiming that the program had caused fear among citizens by implying it was dangerous to eat U.S. beef; thereby violating their right to health and the right to pursue happiness. The plaintiffs also claimed that the show led citizens to protest on the streets and this caused severe inconvenience to those commuting to work.
The court, however, ruled that the inconvenience and damages claimed by the plaintiffs were not directly the result of the program and therefore MBC was not liable for compensation.