Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dice are broadcast

December 1, 2011: today, 5 new networks started broadcasting on Korean TV.

Licenses were awarded last year, without any surprise since the dominant (and rather conservative) daily newspaper groups claimed all the four spots granted for general channels:
. jTBC (channel 15) for JoongAng Ilbo, clearly the most ambitious 'newcomer'. The brand echoes the historic TBC channel founded by the family and disbanded under Park Chung-hee, and the group's J series (reminder: the broadcasting and magazine units have recently merged into Jcontentree). As we saw earlier, this group intends to become a multimedia powerhouse, and if it produces successful contents (eg millions spent on dramas), it can leverage existing ties with most international majors.
. MBN (channel 16) for MBN. According to what I saw today, Maeil Business Newspaper will make the most of its scenic view on Namsan and its Hanok Village, just like YTN does with its unique view on Seoul Station.
. Channel A (channel 18) for Dong-A Ilbo
. TV Chosun (channel 19) for Chosun Ilbo. The group will target an older audience than jTBC, and I hope they will aim for quality.

The fifth license was for an all-news channel, and Yonhap News Agency (News Y, channel 23) was unsurprisingly chosen to rival its former subsidiary YTN.

The market seems already saturated: the overwhelming majority of Korean households subscribe to pay TV on cable, IPTV, or satellite, receive hundreds of channels, and are heavy users for all new sorts of screens. Many players will fold, and KBS and SBS will necessarily take a hit, but the aim of the game was elswhere:
- on the defensive side: helping struggling but friendly newspaper groups as smartphones and tablets accelerate the substitution of paper
- on the offensive side: South Korea lacks global multimedia majors, and now jTBC joins CJ as a top contender.

Seoul Village 2011
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