[EDITORIAL] Networks Must Get With Program

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[EDITORIAL] Networks Must Get With Program

Someone commenting on the post-election situation in the United States, where the country is still without a president-elect more than three weeks after the voting, described the situation there as Kafkaesque. Here in Korea, that's the term that comes to mind when we observe the goings-on at the nation's big three broadcasting networks: the Korean Broadcasting System, a publicly funded broadcasting company; the Seoul Broadcasting System, a private, commercial broadcasting company; and the Munhwa Broadcasting Company, which operates under a combined public and commercial status.

The paradoxical competitive and cooperative relationship among these three entities is so bizarre and nightmarish that they would be worthy of inclusion in one of Franz Kafkae's novels.

They fight one another for ratings, but when it comes to "government public relations," they march together in lockstep. What gives? Look at the contrast between their cutthroat competition for the broadcast rights to professional sporting events and their saccharine cooperativeness for the rights to broadcast the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for President Kim Dae-jung.

MBC paid American Major League Baseball an undisclosed amount for the exclusive right to broadcast games in which Park Chan-ho plays, reneging on an agreement among the three networks to share those games. Smarting from that low blow, KBS has joined with SBS on exclusive contracts for the broadcast rights to Korean pro baseball, soccer and basketball. In view of their already full program schedule, it looks unlikely that they will be able to air enough games to get their money's worth.

Under the circumstances, it seems odd that MBC, which had bought the exclusive rights to broadcast the Nobel ceremony for $10,000, should now make the noble gesture of giving up exclusivity? As a result, the agency that is handling the sale of those rights is said to be asking $30,000 each from KBS and SBS. What is the point of wasting money and energy to show the same program on three different channels at the same time when one channel would do? This is nothing new, as annoyed viewers who would like to watch something else can attest.
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