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Local Cable TV Produces Dramas

2006/11/29 Source

By Han Eun-jung
Staff Reporter

Since "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos", two dramas produced and originally aired on the American cable network HBO, were first shown here several years ago, they have fast become household names.

Fans' postings, which flood Internet message boards, show that fans watch the programs because of their tight-knit plots and well-developed characters.

However, only recently has cable TV started airing dramas _ an area long considered a terrestrial broadcaster-dominated realm _ with premium movie channel OCN emerging as the leader.

With easy access to well-made foreign series and an abundance of locally produced programs, audiences are looking for more.

Not long after "Freeze", a star-studded four-episode series depicting the love of a human and a vampire, was aired last month, OCN launched another made-for-cable series.

The latest, a full-length miniseries (16-episodes) titled "Someday", was launched earlier this month.

"Our focus is to fill the needs and quench the thirst of a young generation of viewers who are used to popular series from abroad like `Sex and the City' and `CSI"', OCN programming director Kim Ui-sok said.

Kim points to the growing number of households with access to cable TV as the reason the venture was possible.

While industry reports vary, Kim said that according to OCN in-house studies, 1.6 billion television viewers _ more than 90 of total television viewers _ subscribe to cable TV.

Created by Kim Kyeong-yong, best known for directing the hit television series "KAIST" and "Silmido", "Someday" was produced by Yellow Films after two years of pre-production.

Yellow Films is an outsourcing production company that provided Seoul Broadcasting Company (SBS), one of the three major terrestrial broadcasters, with "Alone in Love" earlier this year.

"Contents are being diffused through various new media channels, rather than terrestrial networks alone", Yellow Film said in a statement announcing the selling of distribution rights of "Someday" to OCN in October.

Yellow Film said that if terms are favorable to all parties, they will not persist in the distribution of high-quality content to terrestrial stations but include only other media such as cable TV.

Featuring an all-star cast that includes Bae Doona, Kim Min-joon and Lee Jin-wook, "Someday" goes back and forth from shooting locations in Japan and Korea to tell the story of a Japanese-Korean comic book writer (played by Bae), a doctor (Kim) and free spirited college student (Lee) and the love triangle the three find themselves in.

The drama is already being noticed for its strong writing and brilliant cinematography. It has been shortlisted for the top prize at Asia TV Forum, an established market for TV programs broadcast in Asia.

TVn, a cable network that recently launched CJ Media, is currently airing a half-hour sitcom that features top actors like Yoon Da-hoon and Kim Min-jong. "Hyena" is a comedy that revolves around the lives of 30-something men in Seoul today.

"Someday" has been recording an average 1 percent viewer rating, which is considered successful for cable programs, since it had its premier on Nov. 11 in the 10 o'clock time slot. Since then it has aired Saturday and Sunday evenings.

However, starting this week, two episodes of "Someday" will be aired consecutively, as it is being moved to Friday at 11 p.m.

OCN said they are aiming for 3 percent to 4 percent viewer ratings.

According to Lee Young-gyun, a spokeswoman for OCN, a study on the show's viewership has found that it is being accepted exceptionally well amongst 20 and 30-something women. Many young women watch television late on Friday nights.

"This is the start of a new attempt. We are still studying and looking for ways to make it work", she said.

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