Thursday, February 2, 2012

Public Vs. Cable TV in Korea - Shameless Demands

KBS and Cable

Some news came out recently, about a fight between cable channel operators and the public TV channels of KBS, MBC, and SBS. The short version is, these channels broadcast their shows through cable channel operators, reaching people nationwide, without the limitations of terrestrial broadcasting.

Up until a point, the cable channels did not pay any money to these 3 stations, to re-broadcast their shows. But it seems the public channels got greedy and demanded they receive a fee for their programs being shown on cable. A fee quite larger than what cable was already willing to pay.

That's a demand the cable operators were refusing, and very rightfully so.

"We held an emergency executive meeting Monday morning and decided to cease airing KBS 2 programs at 3 p.m"., KCTA secretary general Choi Jong-sam said. "Our subscribers will be double-burdened if cable TV operators are forced to pay fees for retransmitting terrestrial programs produced by KBS, which collects 2,500 won ($2.17) in monthly license fees from each household"

See, terrestrial stations make more money when cable airs their shows. And then they demanded even more.

"Before the agreement, broadcasters insisted that cable operators pay 280 won for each subscriber, stressing that cable operators should pay for airing their programs.

But cable stations were only willing to offer 100 won, saying they should be able to transmit terrestrial shows free of charge as the retransmission helps broadcasters reach a broader audience and boosts their advertising revenue."

Furthermore, if someone should pay, it should be the terrestrial broadcasters. As you see, they are using someone else's system to reach a wider audience.

Initially, cable operators were able to retransmit the broadcast channels free of charge - which they believed was within their rights - but starting in 2007, the three networks demanded the cable operators pay a fee for relaying their content. Cable system operators retaliated by stating that through their cable infrastructure, networks were able to provide their content to fringe areas nationwide which would otherwise not have been able to receive transmissions.

As a result of all this, cable operators halted all re-broadcasts of these stations, until an agreement was reached.

"We had no choice but to suspend the airing of KBS 2 programs in both HD and SD on cable channels as broadcasters refuse to strike a deal with us over transmission fees. Even if we are sanctioned by the communications regulator, we will continue to halt the retransmission"

And then started the bitching, excuse my French. Viewers complained about being forced to watch these programs in SD, on the public television side. They attacked their cable operators for their decision, without putting any thought into why that decision was made, as mindless masses of spoiled netizens tend to do. Now, not all viewers are like this, but the ones who had complaints were very vocal about them, it seems.

Eventually, an agreement was struck, the terms of which are not being made public, and cable operators started re-broadcasting these channels again.

Forgive me if this issue is very frustrating for me, but let me explain how I see things and why exactly terrestrial broadcasters and these netizens infuriate me. Feel free to say otherwise or explain things to me, if I didn't get something, but these are my thoughts on what I know.

So, cable television takes SD terrestrial shows and broadcasts crystal clear HD versions of them. Public channels get more money when cable broadcasts those improved signal quality shows and they ask cable to pay them extra fee on top of it? And they complain because the cable operators refused to make more money for them than what they already collect from subscribers?

Public television sees ratings, not quality. They don't take care of their shows, their stories, their actors and makers. They regurgitate the same series over and over and they try to sell the cheapest things possible while expecting to make good money for the least amount of effort, regardless of what work they ruin or people they disrespect.

And what the hell is wrong with the clients? Can't live without your series for a few damn days? The viewers are really disappointing. They just want their programs and don't think about how what is happening affects them negatively. Did they even think of why this is happening and how public tv is taking advantage of them? Making them pay extra money through cable, for offering them programs through it which are supposed to be free? I am sure the cable operators would adjust their next payment, according to the days these programs were unavailable.

But audiences are dim sometimes. I can't blame them much. But the terrestrial broadcasters. My my. The nerve! If public channels want to make money from people nationwide, then they should make their own cable system or use their own damn money to make it happen. How can they demand that competitor channels let them use their technology to reach/get money from more people, their own clients, and demand an additional fee on top of it?

Cable gets money from viewers for said transmissions, yes, but they use their money, their network and broadcast them in High Definition. Of course they need a fee from viewers. Terrestrial broadcasters collect their share too, if I understood correctly, but now they got greedy for more.

It's like walking into someone's home, using their kitchenware to cook and then demanding they pay for your food as well.

Articles/links on the issue:

Cable TVs stop airing KBS 2 programs

Terrestrial Broadcasters to Sternly Respond to Cable Operators

Cable System Operators to Stop Broadcasting KBS 2TV

TV battle halts as deal is made after deluge of complaints

KBS 2 programs back to airing

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