[Feature] What went wrong: the crisis of independent content producers

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Depicting a 40-year relationship between a cow and an 80-year-old farmer, the film "Former partner" aroused a strong reaction from viewers.  (image: former partner)

Depicting a 40-year relationship between a cow and an 80-year-old farmer, the movie “Old Partner” elicited a strong reaction from viewers. (image: former partner)

SEOUL, May 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Four Seasons Productions, the film producer famous for planning a low-budget but highly successful independent film “Old Partner” and critically acclaimed documentaries including “The DMZ Redux” and “Steel Route”, was temporarily closed after a time of financial trouble.

Released in January 2009, Old Partner showed that independent films could achieve commercial success by attracting more than 2 million admissions in two months. Depicting a 40-year relationship between a cow and an 80-year-old farmer, the film drew a strong reaction from viewers.

This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg given that dozens of independent film and television production companies are in dire financial straits. One of the problems, suggested by independent producers, is that the copyright in most of the programming provided to TV channels belongs to the TV channels rather than to the content creators.

According to a survey conducted by the Korea Association of Independent Productions and the Korea Association of Independent Producers and Directors, the copyrights of 91.7% of the programs went to the operators of terrestrial TV channels, giving an unfair share of the benefits to distributors. The two associations have a total of 145 member companies under their wings.

As for how copyright ownership is determined, the survey indicates that it mostly comes in the form of one-sided contractual arrangements requiring creators to relinquish their rights in order to continue doing business with them. TV channels.

By far the one area that generates the most complaints among production companies is the production budget paid to them by content distributors.  (image: dan-morris / flickr)

By far the one area that generates the most complaints among production companies is the production budget paid to them by content distributors. (image: dan-morris / flickr)

By far the one area that generates the most complaints among production companies is the production budget paid to them by content distributors. Most producers creating documentaries, educational programs and shows, except dramas, said they had to comply with conditions imposed by TV companies even when the production budget suggested by TV companies was below minimum cost. Producers have complained that the production budget goes back ten years ago.

According to a study carried out last year by the Korea Information Society Development Institute, the ratio of contracted TV programs increased for the five-year period between 2008 and 2012, but the production budget is remained almost at the same level.

For example, the percentage of programs outsourced for MBC-TV increased from 42.7% to 53.3% over the same period, while KBS-2 TV saw its ratio of outsourced programs increase by 2 percentage points. at 51.7%. In particular, the percentage of programs subcontracted by television channels during the evening rush hours is over 50 percent, or five times the mandatory 10 percent.

As the figures show, the role of independent content producers has grown rapidly, with the budget of four terrestrial channels allocated to program outsourcing increasing only 9.9% to 410.3 billion won from 373 , 1 billion won in 2008.

Written by Sean Chung ([email protected])

Business (Follow us @Biznews_Korea)



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