Advertisers have stepped forward to stop TV dramas deemed unethical from being aired.
Based on the judgment of civic organizations that the adverse side effects of controversial dramas aired by terrestrial broadcasters have reached an alarming level, the Korea Advertisers Association will request that each broadcaster make corrections.
Considering that dramas showing elements deemed unethical hurt the image of individual ads, the association will also encourage its members to factor in not only a drama's ratings but also ethical soundness when making ad placement decisions.
On the "Five Worst Unethical Dramas" announced by Seoul YMCA's coalition of viewers on Tuesday, the association said it will step forward to improve the quality of TV dramas.
The association will ask each broadcaster to refrain from airing dramas deemed unethical and to make more educational ones. It will also support production of good dramas in cooperation with each advertiser and support drama monitoring campaigns spearheaded by civic groups.
The Seoul YMCA had asked for the association's cooperation, saying, "We urge the association to actively cooperate in improving unethical dramas since such dramas cannot be produced without advertisements and sponsorship".
An association source said, "Unethical dramas are socially undesirable and reduce cost effectiveness through their negative impact on advertising", adding, "We've judged that the matter should be urgently resolved".
A study has also found that advertising on dramas deemed unethical have a negative impact on an advertiser's image.
Kim Bong-hyeon, a professor of advertising and public relations at Dongguk University in Seoul, said in his report "The Effects of the Content of Dramas on Advertisers and Advertisements" that viewers who have an aversion to a drama with negative content have the same aversion to commercials shown after the drama and brands in the commercials.
In particular, ads featuring an actor or actress who played a villain in the drama have a huge negative impact, according to Kim's report, which was presented at a seminar for advertisers last year.
The Seoul YMCA monitored 29 dramas aired by KBS, MBC and SBS, Korea's three terrestrial broadcasters, from July through September this year, and concluded that all of them had unethical elements.
A Seoul YMCA source said, "These dramas distorted reality and stimulated viewers with violence and unethical content to get higher ratings".
Such dramas that feature unethical stories and suggestive elements such as indecent scenes have been cautiously produced despite criticism against them. Many say their immorality has reached an alarming level.
"New Tales of the Gisaeng" came under fire after showing a bizarre scene in which a character is possessed by a spirit.
The 2008 SBS drama "Temptation of Wife", in which the female lead takes revenge on her former husband by disguising herself as a different person by putting a spot on her face, was named "the worst of the worst".
KBS's "Bread, Love and Dreams" aired last year earned ratings of almost 50 percent but was not free from criticism. This was because of a plot full of secrets about the protagonist's birth, revenge and dirty schemes.
The Korea Communications Standards Commission is also monitoring dramas inciting criticism. It took 13 disciplinary measures against broadcasters airing controversial dramas last year but that figure rose to 24 in the first 10 months this year.
Among the dramas being aired now, MBC's "Indomitable Daughters-In-Law" was warned for sensational and unethical elements such as infidelity and violence. KBS's "Ojak Brothers" was also warned for displaying foul language and vulgar expressions.
The advertisers' association will encourage its members to make ad placement decisions based on a drama's soundness while giving active support to good dramas.
An association source said, "We will encourage the production of good dramas that can be watched by the entire family by urging advertisers to choose the best programs".
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"Advertisers' association declares war on 'unethical' TV dramas"
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