IM shopping channel faces criticism

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IM shopping channel faces criticism

IM Shopping, the state-funded home shopping channel, has been criticized for selling the same products that are featured on private home shopping networks.

When the government launched the country’s seventh home shopping network in July, critics said it was unnecessary as the business was already saturated.

At the time, the government defended its decision and insisted the new network would feature different products manufactured by smaller companies to distinguish it from its competitors.

Rep. Jeon Jeong-hee of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy said at a government audit Monday that 41.7 percent, or 63 out of 151 items featured on IM Shopping, overlapped with those provided by other commercial home shopping channels. The lawmaker, who sits on the Trade, Industry and Energy Committee, tracked the products during the first week of the launch between July 14 and 21.

“The home shopping network was built to support small and medium-sized vendors who often face entry barriers,” Jeon said. “But IM Shopping also brought many popular products already aired on different channels.”

Kim Joon-bae, head of the public relations division at IM Shopping, said, “We are on lookout to find new products. Still, it is hard for agriculture produce not to overlap.”

The Small and Medium Business Administration, a state-run body that supports smaller companies, and Nonghyup funded the channel.

Baek Jae-hyun of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy said the agencies were in a rush to open the channel without sufficient preparations.

“The home shopping channel doesn’t have an online mall or mobile platforms,” the lawmaker said. “The agencies were preoccupied with opening it sooner instead of launching quality service.”

The head of the Small and Medium Business Administration said that the channel still has its competitive edge.

“IM Shopping only sells groceries and agricultural products made by small and medium companies,” Han Jung-hwa, chief of the agency, said. “The vendors can use it as a medium to reach out a wider consumer base.”

The agency said the channel will focus on selling approximately 400 products every month, but all of the items sold consist of products by SMEs and agricultural and fishing cooperatives. The proceeds will go towards supporting smaller companies and farming and fishing industries.

It applies lower commission fees to SMEs and agricultural and fishing management bodies than existing channels at an average of 23 percent of sales, while other networks charge more than 30 percent.

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