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Lavish election programs disappoint

TV broadcasters show off what they called fancy graphics, 3-D animations of ballot counting, but disappoint viewers with inaccurate exit polls and entertainment-like programming


Television coverage of Wednesday’s parliamentary elections showcased the evolution of the country’s visual and telecommunications technology, but the shows’ ratings slipped from previous years.

The country’s three terrestrial broadcasters ― Korean Broadcasting System, Munhwa Broadcasting Station and Seoul Broadcasting System ― used state-of-the-art multimedia tools to maximize the visual effects and brought in celebrities to draw viewers’ attention. 
State-run KBS, under its slogan “(Your) Choice! 300,” set up a new studio equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia tools to deliver real-time ballot counting. (KBS)
State-run KBS, under its slogan “(Your) Choice! 300,” set up a new studio equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia tools to deliver real-time ballot counting. (KBS)

Despite the technologically lavish programs, the three broadcasters all failed to deliver exit polls that gave an accurate picture of the outcome, and even made crucial mistakes on live shows.

The exit polls announced at 6 p.m. by the three suggested that the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party had a similar chance of success.

Exit poll numbers by TV broadcasters, often regarded as the core element of election programs, failed to predict the Saenuri victory. In the final count, the ruling Saenuri Party won 152 of the total 300 seats up for grabs against the main opposition DUP’s 127 seats.

“I was very disappointed watching TV election shows delivering the wrong predictions. They definitely looked different than before by adopting new technology and fun content, but I think they lost viewers’ trust by delivering not-so-accurate election predictions,” said Lee Jung-eun, a 30-year-old worker in Seoul.

Viewer ratings of all three TV stations dropped slightly to 26.3 percent from 27 percent and 28 percent in 2004 and in 2008, respectively, according to AGB Nielson Media research. Of the three, the country’s public broadcaster KBS topped the list with 13.3 percent while SBS garnered 8.6 percent of the viewers and MBC trailed far behind with 4.4 percent.
MBC included comedian Park Mi-sun (second from right) and actor Cho Hyeong-ki (second from left) in a panel discussion during its live election coverage on Wednesday. (MBC)
MBC included comedian Park Mi-sun (second from right) and actor Cho Hyeong-ki (second from left) in a panel discussion during its live election coverage on Wednesday. (MBC)

MBC, usually strong in election programs, suffered from the ongoing strike. With its anchors and reporters in sit-in protests, MBC added celebrities ― comedian and TV personality Park Mi-sun and actor Cho Hyeong-ki to a panel discussion.

“It was nonsense. A political discussion table with TV celebrities? I didn’t realize MBC could go this far,” said Cho Young, a 35-year-old Seoul resident.

Some other respondents said they preferred the Internet or smartphones to observe vote counting over watching TV programs all night.

“Some were boring while some were more like comedy shows. They were just reading ballot counts in real time. Political analysis and other interpretation was impossible from the start as they stuck to wrong exit poll results,“ said a viewer who declined to be named.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)
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