Standard Contracts to Protect Entertainers from Exploitation

  • By Jung Ji-sup

    July 31, 2013 12:14

    The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Tuesday came up with a recommended standard contract form for entertainers aiming to prevent major production companies and broadcasters from abusing young aspiring performers. The contract was hammered out with input from broadcasters, independent production companies and groups representing entertainers.

    It will go into effect on Aug. 1 and aims to end so-called slave contracts that tie especially aspiring entertainers into unreasonable demands in the small print. A probe of such contracts found clauses that infringe on the freedom of contracted entertainers, for example by requiring them to take part in promotional activities for their management agencies for free or even constantly report their whereabouts to the agency.

    Actress Han Ye-seul in a scene from a TV soap opera aired in August 2011, when she went AWOL from the set complaining of the hectic shooting schedule.

    Under the new standard contract, entertainers must be paid for their services before the middle of the month after their performance, daily filming cannot exceed 18 hours, and teenage actors must be allowed to attend school and get enough sleep.

    It also requires broadcasters or production companies to provide proper rest facilities for entertainers when filming on location for extended periods. Broadcasters or production companies are also required to provide scripts to actors at least two days before filming to prevent last-minute extension of schedules.

    A separate standard contract between broadcasters and production companies requires both sides to clearly identify who is paying for what. It also contains guidelines on intellectual property and copyright depending on which party contributed the most, as well clarifying ownership rights to facilitate sales.

    To ensure that entertainers are paid, new guidelines require production companies to provide payment guarantees and broadcasters to stop dealings with production companies that fail to pay performers.

    But these contracts are not compulsory, so it remains to be seen how much impact they will have on industry practice. A ministry official said, "We expect these guidelines to be applied in disputes between parties and plan to improve any shortcomings in continued consultations with the industry."

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