Terrestrial stations on equal footing

Territory reports

SEOUL — Of South Korea’s 14 terrestrial TV stations, the main three — MBC, KBS (divided into stations 1 and 2) and SBS — have a fairly even split of the market, with KBS1 and MBC leading on weekdays with a 10%-12% share, followed by SBS with 10% and KBS2 with 7%.

On weekends, SBS and MBC grab 10%, KBS2 8% and KBS1 7.5%. MBC is strong on dramas while KBS1 boasts strong news programs. KBS2 airs popular entertainment shows.

Reality TV has yet to make inroads into Korea, while the number of American programs has been shrinking, though not so much due to the anti-American sentiment — which was strong last fall and winter — as improved local fare.

For features airing on weekends, Hollywood movies made up 58%, down 9% from 2001 but still relatively high, according to South Korea’s Coalition for Cultural Diversity in Moving Images.

Business was strong last year, thanks to the World Cup.

The combined revenues of the 14 stations reached about $2.5 billion, 48% of that total made by the broadcasting sector, including cable and radio.

MBC led with $765 million, KBS2 $595 million and SBS $475 million, reported the Korea Broadcasting Advertising Corp.

Meanwhile, the terrestrial TV industry is fighting for expanded hours and the Korea Broadcasting Commission is considering allowing three more every fall season, with complete liberalization by 2005.

Korean law limits terrestrials to 15 hours per day, from 6 a.m.-noon and 4 p.m.-1 a.m.

Exceptions were allowed during the World Cup last year and during summer vacations, when more educational programs for children are permitted. The commission says three new hours would convert into a 1.4% rise in annual ad revenue.

The Ministry of Culture & Tourism also notes that Korea’s exports of TV programs ($28.8 million) exceeded imports ($25.1 million) for the first time last year. Close to 60% went to Southeast Asia, most notably Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.

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