The Korea Herald


Hybe artists could be returning to MBC

Bang Si-hyuk, Ahn Hyung-joon talk out companies' long-term conflict

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Oct. 31, 2023 - 14:01

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MBC President Ahn Hyung-joon (left) and Hybe chairman Bang Si-hyuk pose for photos at MBC headquarters in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, Monday. (MBC) MBC President Ahn Hyung-joon (left) and Hybe chairman Bang Si-hyuk pose for photos at MBC headquarters in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, Monday. (MBC)

Terrestrial broadcaster MBC appears to be burying the hatchet with K-pop powerhouse Hybe.

The company on Monday announced Bang Si-hyuk’s visit to its headquarters in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, to discuss measures to enhance the rights of K-pop artists in TV productions.

MBC President Ahn Hyung-joon said he hoped to root out past, abusive conduct that hurt young artists several years ago, according to the press release by MBC on Monday.

Ahn said he wished to create a healthy content production environment and win-win partnerships between MBC and artists.

“The two industry leaders shared their thoughts and discussed various measures to develop quality Korean content. Though the detailed plans for Hybe and MBC’s collaboration are yet to be announced, they will be introduced as soon as possible,” an MBC official said in a press release Monday.

Bang, founder and chairman of Hybe, expressed his gratitude for the broadcaster’s consideration, hoping to raise K-pop artists' rights.

He said he hoped to create new ways to refine some of the old customs, bringing a bright future where the broadcaster worked with his artists to produce quality content and talented K-pop stars’ rights and interests are protected.

The relationship between MBC and Hybe has been rocky since 2019, and the meeting is seen as a mending of their relationship.

The conflict between the two companies erupted over 2019 Gayo Daejejeon, MBC’s annual year-end music festival.

K-pop sensation BTS was scheduled to perform live in New York City’s Times Square on New Year's Eve, during the countdown to the new year, making the boy group unavailable for Gayo Daejejeon, which took place on the same day in Korea.

Hybe (then Big Hit Entertainment) proposed a pre-recorded performance, but MBC refused.

In response, Hybe pulled boy band Tomorrow X Together (TXT) and girl group GFriend -- signed to Hybe’s affiliate company Source Music -- from that years Gayo Daejejeon lineup.

Since then, Hybe artists, including Seventeen, Enhypen, Fromis_9, NU’EST and Le Sserafim, NewJeans, had been excluded from MBC’s Saturday music program “Show! Music Core.”

TXT was not invited to the broadcaster’s hit reality sports show “Idol Star Athletics Championships” in 2020 either.

The entertainment giant held a joint-label concert, titled “Weverse Con,” a separate music festival, the same day as Gayo Daejejeon in 2021.

Hybe’s absence from MBC music programs was the second time the entertainment industry has boycotted the broadcaster.

After MBC released a report that described artist-agency relationships as a form of modern-day slavery in its documentary program “Sisa 2580” in 2001, the Korea Entertainment Producer’s Association refused to star MBC programs.

The artists’ live performances were replaced either with music videos or different TV shows for almost two months.