[EDITORIALS]Good Riddance to Bad RankingsThe Korea Broadcasting System will change the format of Music Bank, a weekly program ranking Korean pop songs. We approve of the broadcaster's plan to eliminate problems associated with such pop chart shows. Since the format of all pop chart shows now on the air originated with KBS's "Gayo Top 10" in 1980, the broadcaster is trying to resolve problems that it originally introduced.
Korean pop chart programs such as Music Bank of KBS and Live Music Camp of Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. have been criticized as unfair because of their strong influence on the music market despite their audience share of only about 9 percent.
Broadcasters ranked pop songs by using music sales; the number of times the songs were aired; telephone, Internet and street polls and an evaluation committee's votes. Still, the music market is not transparent and teenage fans were over-responding in polls, stirring criticism that the pop charts were biased.
Broadcasters want to attract popular singers to appear on their programs, and music companies want to sell more copies of their music using the free advertising of high rankings on the pop charts. That convergence of interests has made relationships between broadcasters and music companies more cozy, and the criticism about the fairness of the rankings intensified.
The pop chart programs can also give TV producers more clout than singers. As conditions worsened, the Citizens' Network for Popular Music Reform complained to the Korean Broadcasting Commission about the three major broadcasters' shows, because TV programs intended to develop pop music could well be hindering its development.
In France and Germany, no such ranking programs exist. In Japan, only some private broadcasters air such programs. The KBS decision to reform its program is belated, but still fortunate. MBC and SBS should join the effort and abolish their ranking of songs as soon as possible. At the same time, the newly planned Korean pop music programs should be open stages where talented musicians of many styles can meet viewers, rather than focusing on certain stars.