South Korea

IPTV enters fray as channels duke it out

SEOUL — Big changes are afoot in the Korean TV industry. Newly launched policy body Korea Communications Commission (KCC) — a combo of the former Ministry of Information and Communications and the Korea Broadcasting Commission — has pushed converge of IPTV and broadcasting, incubating new biz opportunities.

KCC gave permission for IPTV activity to three companies — KT, SK Broadband and LG Dacom — which will start offering services in October, seeking a new profit model.

Trio, however, face an uphill battle as they engage in three-way competition with cablers and terrestrial broadcasters.

To this end, they’re negotiating with program providers, but it remains to be seen whether they can secure enough content.

Meanwhile, the three major terrestrial broadcasters are fighting it out. The hottest battlegrounds are weekday TV dramas and Sunday reality and comedy shows. TV dramas Song Seung-hun starrer “East of Eden” (MBC) and comicstrip-based “Tazza” (SBS) are dueling on Monday and Tuesday nights, while classical music drama “Beethoven Virus” (MBC) and blockbuster epic “Land of Wind” (KBS) are heating the networks Wednesdays and Thursdays in primetime.

Helping these dramas attract audiences is the casting of big names from Korea’s film industry, including the highly anticipated return to TV after a few years’ break of Korean Wave stars Moon Geun-young and Song Hye-kyo. They topline “Painter of the Wind” and “The World That They Live In,” respectively.

At the recent Broadcast Worldwide 2008 confab in Seoul, $30 million worth of Korean TV programs were sold to foreign buyers.

TOP 3

“Mom Has Grown Horns” (KBS)

“First Wives’ Club” (SBS)

“East of Eden” (MBC)

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