The current year has been quite remarkable for the Korean television industry, thanks to the strength of Korean dramas. The growth of cable TV, launch of digital cable platforms and Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) have also contributed to the industry.
Korean television melodrama, which played an important role in spreading awareness of Korean culture in Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Asia, was considered to be a cheap alternative to Japanese dramas initially. But today Korean dramas bring in high revenues.
David Taegho Ahn, Director of the programme planning division at free-TV station, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), said, “Korean terrestrial broadcasters put a large priority on the drama genre. So far in 2005, eight of the top 10 programmes have been dramas.”
However, there are certain worries about the sustainability of the drama’s popularity resulting in outsourcing. “There’s just not enough creativity,” said Jeon San, a producer at KBS. “We make out dramas too quickly and we don’t have enough money.”
The phenomenal growth of the Korean television industry can be attributed to the fact that the foreign ownership restrictions have been eased with maximum ownership of cable TV channels rising from 33 per cent to 49 per cent.
Despite the hurdles, the Korean television business is poised for a huge growth with TU Media, Korea’s only license holder for satellite DMB planning to launch 38 channels a month.