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In South Korea, there are a number of national television networks, the three largest of which are KBS, MBC, and SBS. Most of the major television studios are located on Yeouido and Sangam-dong, Seoul. South Korea became the fourth adopter in Asia when television broadcasting began on 12 May 1956 with the opening of HLKZ-TV, a commercially operated television station. HLKZ-TV was established by the RCA Distribution Company (KORCAD) in Seoul with 186–192 MHz, 100-watt output, and 525 scanning lines.[1]

Important genres of television shows include serial dramas, historical dramas, variety shows, game shows, news programs, and documentaries. All three networks have produced increasingly lavish historical dramas in recent years. Some South Korean television programs are available on satellite and multicultural channels in foreign countries. South Korean television dramas have been widely popular in other East Asian, South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, and became popularized internationally at a later stage, with whole sets of videotapes or DVDs of series available with completed subtitles in different languages, online subtitle websites are also created by numerous fan clubs to cater to a global audience. Shopping channels have become quite popular in recent years as well, and the models sometimes put on entertaining acts during product pitches.

Most cable operators in South Korea were consolidated into 3 major telecommunication companies, KT, SK Telecom, and LG Uplus. They also operates Internet Protocol television services. There are approximately 14 million cable TV subscribers nationwide. The cable operator provides TPS to its subscribers. (with the exception of Arirang which is free).

History

Since the beginning of the 1950s, television was introduced to Korea by RCA to sell second-hand black & white TV sets as a marketing scheme. Some TV sets were strategically set up at Pagoda Park, others at the Seoul Station and Gwanghwamun during this time.[2] However it was not until 1956 when South Korea began its own television broadcasting station, the HLKZ-TV, part of the KORCAD (RCA Distribution Company). The first ever Korean television drama, 천국의 문 (The Gates of Heaven) debuted the same year, planning director Choi Chang-Bong spent two and a half months continuously fixing the script, preparing sets and even the first instance of special effects, all for a drama that lasted no longer than fifteen minutes.

The early 1960s saw a phenomenal growth in television broadcasting. On 1 October 1961 the first full-scale television station, HLKA-TV (now known as KBS 1TV), was established and began operation under the Ministry of Culture and Public Information.

Following KBS was Tongyang Broadcasting Corporation's TBC-TV which was launched in 1964, and ran until merged in 1980. It was the first private television network in South Korea.

The second commercial television system, MBC-TV, made its debut in 1969. The advent of MBC-TV brought significant development to the television industry in Korea and after 1969 the television industry was characterized by furious competition among the three networks.

The 1970s were highlighted by government intervention into the media system in Korea. In 1972, President Park Chung Hee government imposed censorship upon media through the Martial Law Decree. The government revised the Broadcasting Law under the pretext of improving the quality of television programming. After the revision of the law, the government expanded its control of media content by requiring all television and radio stations to review programming before and after transmission. Although the government argued that its action was taken as a result of growing public criticism of broadcasting media practices, many accused the government of wanting to establish a monopoly over television broadcasting.

The 1980s were the golden years for South Korea's television industry. Growth was phenomenal in every dimension: the number of programming hours per week rose from 56 in 1979 to nearly 88.5 in 1989; the number of television stations increased from 12 in 1979 to 78 by 1989; and the number of television sets grew from four million in 1979 to nearly six million in the same period. Despite producing color televisions for export, color television was not officially introduced in the country until late 1980.[3] Color broadcasting, however, occasioned a renewal of strong competition among the networks. However, the South Korean TV industry was also suffered huge blows in this decade. During Chun Doo-hwan's regime, several newspapers, broadcasters and publications were forcibly closed, or were merged into a single organization. One of which is TBC-TV which was awarded to KBS. TBC-TV was then replaced by KBS 2TV. After the country's 1987 democratic reforms, several regulations were imposed to insulate broadcasters from political influence. For example, the National Assembly established the Foundation for Broadcast Culture to insulate MBC from political influence and KBS.

At the beginning of the 1990s, with the introduction of cable television, the government initiated an experimental multi-channel and multi-purpose cable television service. In addition, South Korea launched its first broadcasting/communication satellite, Mugungwha 1, to 36,000 km above the equator in 1995. The development of an integrated broadband network is expected to take the form of B-ISDN immediately after the turn of the century. This decade is a period of great technological change in the South Korean broadcasting industry, which will make broadcasting media even more important than in the past. In this decade the South Korean broadcasting industry will maximize the service with new technological developments such as DBS, satellites, and interactive cable systems, all of which will allow South Korea to participate fully in the information society.

On 22 July 2009, after heated political debates, amendment of the Media law passed the South Korean national assembly to deregulate the media market of South Korea. On 31 December 2010, four general Cable Television networks were licensed.

All analog broadcastings officially full-time completely turn off on New Year's Eve (31 December) 2012 at 03:59:59 KST (UTC+9) for all nationwide (including Seoul Capital Area such as Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon) so all analog broadcastings officially full-time completely turn off on same time. On New Year's Eve (31 December) 2012 at 04:00:00 KST (UTC+9), the digital terrestrial television of the South Korea fully turned, shifted and switched to all full ultra high definition for all nationwide (including Seoul Capital Area such as Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon).

National networks

In South Korea, there are four nationwide free-to-air terrestrial television networks, three general networks and one educational network as follows:

Name Channels
(Seoul Capital Area)
Channels
(Busan region)
Channels
(Jeju region)
Launch Type & Owner
Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)
한국방송공사
韓國放送公社
  • 31 December 1961; 62 years ago (1961-12-31) (KBS1)
  • 1 December 1980; 43 years ago (1980-12-01) (KBS2)
  • 3 March 2010; 14 years ago (2010-03-03) (KBS News D)
Public broadcasting
Government of South Korea
Educational Broadcasting System (EBS)
한국교육방송공사
韓國敎育放送公社
  • 27 December 1990; 33 years ago (1990-12-27) (EBS 1)
  • 11 February 2015; 9 years ago (2015-02-11) (EBS 2)
Public broadcasting
Government of South Korea
Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)
MBC 네트워크
株式會社文化放送
  • MBC TV
    HLKV-DTV/UHDTV (Channel 11–1)
  • 8 August 1969; 54 years ago (1969-08-08) (MBC TV)
Public/Commercial broadcasting
The Foundation of Broadcast Culture
The Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation
Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS Network)
한국민영방송연합 (SBS네트워크)
  • SBS TV
    HLSQ-DTV/UHDTV (Channel 6–1)
  • KNN TV
    HLDG-DTV/UHDTV (Channel 6–1)
20 March 1991; 33 years ago (1991-03-20) Commercial broadcasting
Seoul Broadcasting System
(Taeyoung Group)

List of television channels

All of them are free-to-air channels. Furthermore, all of them are the official digital terrestrial television and ATSC providers of the nation (since 2005, approved by the Korean Government).

Public broadcasting channels

Name Owner Launch Genre Description
KBS1 Korean Broadcasting System 1 October 1961; 62 years ago (1961-10-01) News, drama, culture, kids and sports The channel's callsign is HLKA-DTV and HLKA-UHDTV.
KBS2 Korean Broadcasting System 1 December 1964; 59 years ago (1964-12-01) Variety, sports and entertainment Formerly known as TBC, renamed to KBS 2TV in 1980.
The channel's callsign is HLSA-DTV.
KBS News D Korean Broadcasting System 19 July 2021; 2 years ago (2021-07-19) News, live events, emergency alerts ATSC 3.0 only channel, broadcasting in HD format.
The channel's callsign is HLKA-UHDTV.
EBS1 Educational Broadcasting System 27 December 1990; 33 years ago (1990-12-27) Education, News, Kids Entertainment Formerly known as KBS 3TV, renamed to EBS in 1990.
The channel's callsign is HLQL-DTV.
EBS2 Educational Broadcasting System 11 February 2015; 9 years ago (2015-02-11) Education ATSC 3.0 only channel, broadcasting in HD format.
The channel's callsign is HLQL-DTV.
MBC TV Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 8 August 1969; 54 years ago (1969-08-08) News and entertainment The Channel's callsign is HLKV-DTV and HLKV-UHDTV.

Commercial broadcasting channels

In South Korea, many commercial television networks have been created after the deregulation taken in 1961 till 1990.[4] SBS is responsible in distributing its programming content nationally, but is not responsible for producing local content aired by their affiliates.

MBC Networks Channel

Local broadcasting companies affiliated with MBC Networks originally started as affiliated broadcasting stations in the same way as SBS Networks.

After Policy for Merger and Abolition of the Press, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation is took over 50% of the shares in local broadcasting stations, and all local broadcasting stations became subsidiaries of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation.

Due to this background, MBC Networks is currently operating simultaneously with the characteristics of public broadcasting and commercial broadcasting.

Name Owner Launch Covers Genre Description
MBC TV Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 1 August 1969; 54 years ago (1969-08-01) Seoul Capital Area City news and entertainment The Channel's callsign is HLKV-DTV and HLKV-UHDTV.
MBC Network Headquarters
Chuncheon MBC TV Chuncheon Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 20 January 1983; 41 years ago (1983-01-20) Northern Yeongseo Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAN-DTV.
Wonju MBC TV Wonju Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 26 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-26) Southern Yeongseo Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLSB-DTV and HLSB-UHDTV.
MBC Gangwon-yeongdong TV (Gangneung) MBC Gangwon-yeongdong Broadcasting Corporation 6 September 1985; 38 years ago (1985-09-06) Northern Yeongdong Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAF-DTV and HLAF-UHDTV.
Formerly known as Gangneung MBC, renamed to MBC Gangwon-yeongdong (Gangneung) in 2015.
MBC Gangwon-yeongdong TV (Samcheok) 27 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-27) Southern Yeongdong Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAQ-DTV.
Formerly known as Samcheok MBC, renamed to MBC Gangwon-yeongdong (Samcheok) in 2015.
Daejeon MBC TV Daejeon Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 24 April 1971; 53 years ago (1971-04-24) Daejeon, Sejong City and Chungnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLCQ-DTV and HLCQ-UHDTV.
MBC Chungbuk TV (Cheongju) MBC Chungbuk Broadcasting Corporation 1 April 1983; 41 years ago (1983-04-01) Southern Chungbuk Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAX-DTV.
Formerly known as Cheongju MBC, renamed to MBC Chungbuk (Cheongju) in 2016.
MBC Chungbuk TV (Chungju) 17 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-17) Northern Chungbuk Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAO-DTV.
Formerly known as Chungju MBC, renamed to MBC Chungbuk (Chungju) in 2016.
Gwangju MBC TV Gwangju Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 29 August 1970; 53 years ago (1970-08-29) Gwangju and Central Northern Jeonnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLCN-DTV and HLCN-UHDTV.
Mokpo MBC TV Mokpo Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 16 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-16) Southwest Jeonnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAM-DTV.
Yeosu MBC TV Yeosu Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 21 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-21) Eastern Jeonnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAT-DTV.
Jeonju MBC TV Jeonju Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 23 April 1971; 53 years ago (1971-04-23) Jeonbuk Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLCX-DTV.
Daegu MBC TV Daegu Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 18 July 1970; 53 years ago (1970-07-18) Daegu, Midwest Southern Gyeongbuk Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLCT-DTV and HLCT-UHDTV.
Andong MBC TV Andong Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 23 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-23) Northern Gyeongbuk Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAW-DTV.
Pohang MBC TV Pohang Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 24 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-24) East Coast Gyeongbuk. Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAV-DTV.
Busan MBC TV Busan Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 24 January 1970; 54 years ago (1970-01-24) Busan Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLKU-DTV and HLKU-UHDTV.
Ulsan MBC TV Ulsan Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 25 January 1971; 53 years ago (1971-01-25) Ulsan Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAU-DTV and HLAU-UHDTV.
MBC Gyeongnam TV (Jinju) MBC Gyeongnam Broadcasting Corporation 20 November 1987; 36 years ago (1987-11-20) Western Gyeongnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAK-DTV
Formerly known as Jinju MBC, renamed to MBC Gyeongnam (Jinju) in 2011.
MBC Gyeongnam TV (Changwon) 5 October 1972; 51 years ago (1972-10-05) Eastern Gyeongnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAP-DTV
Formerly known as Masan MBC(1971-2010) / Changwon MBC(2010-2011), renamed to MBC Gyeongnam (Changwon) in 2011.
Jeju MBC TV Jeju Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation 1 August 1970; 53 years ago (1970-08-01) Jeju Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLAU-DTV.
Formerly known as Namyang MBC, renamed to Jeju MBC in 1984.

SBS Networks Channel

SBS, which was originally established as an independent broadcasting station, was established in 1995 by PSB (Currently, KNN), CJB, TBC, and TJB, and SBS Networks was created around SBS.

Currently, 9 broadcasting stations are affiliated.

Name Owner Launch Covers Genre Description
SBS TV SBS Media Holdings 9 December 1991; 32 years ago (1991-12-09) Seoul Capital Area City news and entertainment The Channel's callsign is HLSQ-DTV and HLSQ-UHDTV
SBS Network Headquarters
KNN Korea New Network 14 March 1995; 29 years ago (1995-03-14) Busan and Gyeongnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDG-DTV and HLDG-UHDTV.
Formerly known as PSB Pusan Broadcasting, renamed to KNN in 2006.
TBC Daegu Broadcasting Corporation 14 March 1995; 29 years ago (1995-03-14) Daegu and Gyeongbuk Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDE-DTV and HLDE-UHDTV.
KBC Kwangju Broadcasting Company 14 March 1995; 29 years ago (1995-03-14) Gwangju and Jeonnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDH-DTV and HLDH-UHDTV.
TJB Taejon Broadcasting 14 March 1995; 29 years ago (1995-03-14) Daejeon, Sejong City and Chungnam Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDF-DTV and HLDF-UHDTV.
UBC Ulsan Broadcasting Corporation 1 September 1997; 26 years ago (1997-09-01) Ulsan, eastern part of South Gyeongsang Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDP-DTV and HLDP-UHDTV.
JTV Jeonju Television 17 September 1997; 26 years ago (1997-09-17) North Jeolla Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDQ-DTV.
CJB Cheongju Broadcasting 18 October 1997; 26 years ago (1997-10-18) North Chungcheong Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLDR-DTV.
G1 Gangwon No.1 Broadcasting 15 December 2001; 22 years ago (2001-12-15) Gangwon Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLCG-DTV and HLCG-UHDTV.
JIBS Jeju International Broadcasting System 31 May 2002; 22 years ago (2002-05-31) Jeju Local entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLKJ-DTV.

Independent station

After 1990, independent broadcasting stations excluding SBS include iTV Kyung-in Broadcasting (formerly iTV Incheon Broadcasting), which opened in 1997 and closed in 2004, and OBS Gyeongin TV, which opened in 2007.

The viewing area of the two broadcasting stations was the same in Seoul Capital Area, and among them, iTV Kyung-in Broadcasting was broadcast to other regions through Pay television and served as a Superstation.

Name Owner Launch Covers Genre Description
OBS Young An Hat Co., Ltd. 28 December 2007; 16 years ago (2007-12-28) Seoul Capital Area Metropolitan entertainment and news The Channel's callsign is HLQS-DTV.

Cable TV networks/channels

Name Launch Group
Korea TV March 1, 1995 KTV
National Assembly TV May 24, 2004 NATV
Arirang TV February 3, 1997 Arirang
Animax April 29, 2006 JJMediaWorks
AXN March 1, 2016 KC Global Media
B tv January 12, 2009 SK Broadband
Boomerang November 14, 2015 Warner Bros. Discovery
Cartoon Network November 11, 2006 Warner Bros. Discovery
CATCH ON 1 1993 CJ
CATCH ON 2 2000 CJ
Channel A December 1, 2011 Channel A
Channel A Plus July 1, 2015 Channel A
Channel Now April 1, 2006 t.cast
Channel S April 8, 2021 SK Broadband
Channel View February 1, 2009 t.cast
Ching May, 2005 SkyTV
Chunghwa TV September 1, 2009 CJ
cineF August 1, 2010 t.cast
Comedy TV October 1, 2000 iHQ
DRAMAcube August 1, 2011 t.cast
Dramax July 1, 2002 iHQ
Discovery Channel September 1, 2020 Warner Bros. Discovery
E Channel October 1, 2000 t.cast
EBS English April 6, 2007 EBS
EBS Kids January 1, 2018 EBS
EBS Plus 1 March 1, 2002 EBS
EBS Plus 2 March 1, 2002 EBS
ENA September 29, 2003 SkyTV
ENA Drama July 1, 2002 SkyTV
ENA Play July 3, 2010 SkyTV
ENA Story April 29, 2022 SkyTV
Fashion N March, 2009 t.cast
Golf & PBA 2010 IB SPORTS
HealthMedi TV December, 2013 SkyTV
History (Korea) September 22, 2017 iHQ, A+E
IB SPORTS July 1, 2009 IB SPORTS
iHQ Play July 2, 2012 iHQ
iHQ Show July 1, 2012 iHQ
JTBC December 1, 2011 JTBC
JTBC GOLF January 7, 2005 JTBC
JTBC GOLF & SPORTS August 1, 2015 JTBC
JTBC2 March 1, 1995 JTBC
JTBC4 April 21, 2018 JTBC
KBS drama February 2, 2002 KBS
KBS joy November 1, 2006 KBS
KBS Kids May 5, 2012 KBS
KBS LIFE February 27, 2002 KBS
KBS N SPORTS February 2, 2002 KBS
KBS STORY April 1, 2021 KBS
Kids Talk Talk Plus March 31, 2003 SkyTV
Korea Economic TV August 31, 1999 The Korea Economic Daily
K-STAR December 1, 1995 K Holic
Lifetime (Korea) September 22, 2017 iHQ, A+E
Lotte Home Shopping September 15, 2001 Lotte Corporation
Maeil Business TV March 1, 2015 MBN
MBC Drama April 2, 2001 MBC
MBC every1 January 1, 2003 MBC
MBC M February 1, 2012 MBC
MBC ON February 18, 2019 MBC
MBC Sports+ April 2, 2001 MBC
MBN December 6, 1994 MBN
MBN Plus April 27, 2016 MBN
Mnet March 1, 1995 CJ
MTN 2008 Money Today
MX November 1, 2022 t.cast
OCN March 1, 1995 CJ
OCN Movies July 12, 2002 CJ
OCN Thrills July 1, 2001 CJ
OGN July 24, 2000 OP.GG
OLIFE September 14, 2020 SkyTV
ONCE March 16, 2020 SkyTV
ONT January, 2011 SkyTV
Pinkfong TV June 16, 2020 The Pinkfong Company
SBS Biz May 1, 2002 SBS
SBS FiL October 1, 2019 SBS
SBS FiL UHD August 1, 2016 SBS
SBS funE August 16, 2005 SBS
SBS Golf June 1, 1999 SBS
SBS Golf 2 April 1, 2023 SBS
SBS M July 1, 2001 SBS
SBS Plus September 1, 2000 SBS
SBS Plus UHD August 1, 2016 SBS
SBS Sports March 1, 1995 SBS
SCREEN February 1, 2009 t.cast
SK Shopping January 6, 2015 SK Broadband
Sky Sports August 1, 2014 SkyTV
SPOTV May 1, 2010 Eclat
SPOTV2 January 1, 2012 Eclat
SPOTV Golf & Health May 6, 2020 Eclat
STATV March 16, 2020 Eclat
Tooniverse December 1, 1995 CJ
TV CHOSUN December 1, 2011 CHOSUN
TV CHOSUN2 February 12, 2007 CHOSUN
TV CHOSUN3 April 1, 2021 CHOSUN
tvN October 9, 2006 CJ
tvN DRAMA September 10, 2015 CJ
tvN STORY June 1, 2000 CJ
tvN SHOW September 1, 2021 CJ
tvN SPORTS May 20, 2022 CJ
Yonhap News TV December 1, 2011 Yonhap News
YTN March 1, 1995 YTN
YTN2 March 1, 2021 YTN
YTN Science November 8, 2010 YTN

International channels

Most viewed channels

Position Channel Share of total viewing (%)
1 KBS 1TV 9.1
2 MBC TV 8.8
3 SBS TV 6.0
4 KBS Drama 4.9
5 OBS 4.4
6 tvN 3.9
7 MBC Drama 3.1
8 KBS 2TV 2.8
9 KBS News D 2.7
10 Mnet 1.9
11 EBS 1TV 1.4
12 EBS 2TV 0.9

See also

References

  1. ^ "SOUTH KOREA - the Museum of Broadcast Communications". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  2. ^ http://withs2.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/The-Rise-and-Fall-of-the-K-Drama-Empire-Chapter-2-Mad-Men.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ Color television finally comes to South Korea market -- with a rush, Christian Science Monitor, 17 March 1981
  4. ^ South Korea Archived 7 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Museum of Broadcast Communications, Retrieved on 21 March 2009