Fair road to fame and fortune is FTC’s new mantra

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Fair road to fame and fortune is FTC’s new mantra

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) announced a set of guidelines for the entertainment industry yesterday to stop aspiring celebrities and emerging showbiz talents from being cajoled into signing unfair contracts with their management companies, among other controversial and allegedly widespread practices.

The new rules aimed at protecting workers’ basic rights are legally enforceable and effective from today. They also intend to curtail such industry norms as delaying payments to entertainers and having them participate in events for free.

They come as a result of five months of discussion among the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and other associations that represent singers and actors, including the Korea Singers Association and the Korea Broadcasting Actors Association.

“These new guidelines will direct management companies to correct their practice of signing entertainers to unfair contracts to suit their own needs, and stop them from infringing their employees’ human rights,” said Gwon Cheol-hyeon, director of the FTC division that deals with breaking monopolies in the service sector.

“This will also be put into use when resolving disputes between management companies and entertainers.”

The guideline protects entertainers’ rights to receive income and to be aware of the financial status of the company they are signed with. Management companies now have to pay entertainers for their work within 45 days of receiving the money from the organizers. Companies should also provide their account books to entertainers within seven days of receiving the request.

Moreover, entertainers will have more of a say in what type of work they want to focus on. They won’t be forced to work in shows or events that the management companies sponsor, and they will not be discriminated against for refusing to participate in them, according to the new rules.

Aspiring entertainers must also from now on be granted access to the financial information of the management companies on request so they can fairly judge whether the company is sound enough to invest in them properly.

It also states that underage trainees and entertainers should be granted reasonable time to sleep, rest and study, as well as the right to refuse to participate in shows featuring violence.

Women entertainers must also consent - rather than being coerced into - having their sex appeal exploited for marketing and promotional purposes, the guidelines state.

A copy of the newly issued rulebook will be sent to organizations and companies related to the industry to maximize its use.

Calls to better regulate the industry arose after a number of the nation’s top idol groups claimed they were the victims of unfair contracts.

Kara, a five-member girl group that topped numerous music charts in Asia with its song “Lupin” in 2010, alleged early last year that each member only received 860,000 won ($788.70) for six months’ work. The band’s management agency rebutted the claim and said it paid them considerably more.

Meanwhile, the K-pop outfit TVXQ was downsized from five to two members after three split off to form another group called JYJ under a new management company after complaining of unfair treatment at the hands of SM Entertainment.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
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