Cable Channels Woo Viewers Away from News

    January 12, 2007 09:41


    Cable TV channels are taking on their terrestrial rivals' evening news shows, putting their entertainment programs on during the same 9 p.m. time slot.

    The ratings of evening news shows have been sliding since the mid-1990s, when they captured a full quarter of Korea's TV watchers. Last year, KBS’ "News 9" show managed ratings of 18.5 percent, while MBC’s "News Desk" dropped to just 10.1 percent.

    While the ratings numbers are made public, detailed analysis of those figures are kept confidential. A ratings researcher said broadcasters, sensitive to negative numbers, make them promise keep their analysis of news ratings to themselves.

    But according to a report from the Korean Broadcasting Institute (KBI), in 2004 viewers aged 10 to 49 didn't include TV news among their five favorite shows. And for viewers 50 years and up, TV news ranked number four. Among male viewers, dramas were the top draw, followed by comedies, quiz programs and variety shows. Female viewers also ranked dramas first, then comedies, quiz programs, talk shows and variety shows.




    Seeking to capitalize on this change in viewing habits, cable networks are now scheduling shows around 9 p.m. that target young TV watchers. Cable network tvN airs an entertainment news show at 8:40 p.m. from Monday to Friday. They're going after women in their 20s and 30s, a tvN staffer confirmed. At the same time, cable channel OCN broadcasts the popular American crime drama “CSI”. And on Wednesdays and Thursdays, cable channel CGV shows the mega-hit American medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” in the same time slot.

    But the terrestrial broadcasters are fighting back, with both KBS and MBC altering their news formats away from straight forward broadcasts to more in-depth, analytical reports. At MBC’s "News Desk", for example, reporters sit down with the news anchor to discuss in detail the stories they just covered.

    The old news format had reached its expiration date, said Park Woong-jin, a researcher at KBI. Covering events that have been covered throughout the day won't work anymore, he said, and it's urgent that terrestrial broadcasters address their viewers’ changing lifestyles and tastes.

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