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[Opinion] MCs

Posted September. 29, 2005 03:05,   


Are TVs an entertainment medium or should they be a reporting or educational medium? Basically, TVs are closer to the former. However, that does not mean they should remain nothing more than a “dummy box.” Korea’s Broadcasting Act takes a “neutral” stance on this issue, stipulating that entertainment programs should represent no more than 50 percent of the entire programs. The TV “genre breakdown” renders this classic debate useless.

As entertainment programs embrace informative and educational elements, a new term “infotainment” has been coined. Education programs in turn have adopted entertainment elements as fun factors. It has become meaningless to differentiate between entertainment programs and education programs. There is a flood of entertainment programs that impersonate as education programs – broadcasters have found a way to circumvent the law and increase the proportion of entertainment program over the limit. The most common method that the viewership-hungry broadcasters adopt is featuring star MCs, which heats up competition and boosts pay for MCs. You flip the channels but see the same face everywhere. Shows are full of petty conversations and coarse jokes that only the entertainers laugh over. Some entertainment programs attempt a “blanket bombing,” with as many as five or six MCs. Such broadcasters, so desperately trying to bring up viewing rates, regard viewers as fools.

The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) paid 19 external MCs over 100 million won last year. One of the MCs was paid over 400 million won and four over 200 million. Although KBS is officially a public broadcaster, its program contents, reliant on a few stars, are little different from those of commercial broadcasters. This represents an unchanging, neglecting production attitude of the so-called “the broadcaster for the people” that collects subscription fees virtually by force.

Opponents ask if it is really necessary to emphasize the public nature of the broadcaster even for its entertainment programs designed for pleasure and fun. However, even entertainment programs differ in qualities. Show producers should think about and find the way to make quality entertainment programs without boring jokes and gestures by star MCs. A public broadcaster should live up to that expectation. How long do we have to cope with the two sides to the public broadcaster?

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com