CJ ENM Rep Speaks To KCSC About “Produce 101” Manipulation Controversy + Says Mnet Will No Longer Make Audition Programs

CJ ENM was called to state their opinion at a special meeting of the Korea Communications Standards Commission on December 18.

Mnet’s Content Operations Strategy Team Manager Kang Ji Hoon attended the meeting as CJ ENM’s representative and was questioned about the “Produce 101” vote manipulation controversy. It’s reported that he was criticized by the committee members when the majority of his answers avoided their questions, with him instead offering responses such as “The trial is ongoing” or “That’s something that hasn’t been confirmed yet.”

Mnet had written in a pre-submitted statement, “We are doing our best,” and Kang Ji Hoon explained, “It means that we are cooperating with the investigation.” He added, “We are preparing a separate apology and a compensation plan.”

He confirmed that there has not yet been disciplinary measures carried out within the company regarding those involved. He said, “The producing directors in question have been indicted and are being investigated, and we plan to take appropriate measures depending on the results.” He confirmed that the producers who were indicted currently still maintain their status as employees of Mnet.

When asked what relationship the producers Ahn Joon Young, Kim Yong Bum, and others have with Mnet, he replied, “I’m unable to know the specifics about that. It would be difficult for me to say.” In response to being asked if they’d confirmed that the votes were manipulated, he stated that the company itself has not confirmed it yet.

Regarding the voting data that is stored by an external storage company, Kang Ji Hoon stated, “We tried to check it ourselves but we were not able to. Only the producing director in charge could access it. Since only the related person could do it, we couldn’t bring that data.”

Regarding plans for compensation for the victims, Kang Ji Hoon said that nothing has been decided concretely yet. When asked who will be receiving compensation, he said they are still discussing this. He was criticized by the committee because the company has not yet issued a statement even though it’s been two weeks since the prosecution’s investigation results were announced, and Kang Ji Hoon lowered his head in response.

It’s described that the only thing that Kang Ji Hoon said confidently at the meeting was, “We strongly feel responsibility about this, and we are preparing a sincere apology. Within the company, we’re trying to restore fairness by making a system of observation for voting.”

When asked if Mnet won’t be producing any more survival programs after this, Kang Ji Hoon replied, “I think it’s better to call it an audition program than a survival program, but we’re planning to avoid that kind of program and create content that focuses more on music.”

A member pointed out that while the “Produce 101” controversy hadn’t been settled yet, Mnet aired another audition program, “World Klass.” Kang Ji Hoon responded, “The format in which the members were chosen through voting is similar, but we didn’t manage the data ourselves so that prevented a [manipulation] issue.”

Towards the end of the meeting, Kang Ji Hoon was asked again if they acknowledge that the number of votes in the “Produce 101” series was manipulated. He replied, “We aren’t acknowledging that the number of votes was manipulated. We’re aware that there is a problem, and we requested an investigation.”

When asked if the fact that there was a problem meant that it was manipulated or if it was caused by a technical error, Kang Ji Hoon replied, “We’ll find out the exact facts.”

The committee pressed Kang Ji Hoon to explain what he saw as the problem, and he replied, “It’s seen that there was a problem because of the similar multiples of the final vote numbers. We will speak about this after we have found out the exact facts.”

After Kang Ji Hoon left, the members of the committee decided to request additional data, and they are reserving judgement on sanctions against the network at the moment until they receive it.

The members said, “Usually when there is an incident on a television show, they will go through a very minimal process and a representative will come here and say something like ‘We’ve done an investigation and there was such-and-such an issue.’ However today, he didn’t give us any sort of answer. It’s to the point that we’re doubtful that they even discussed this internally within the company.”

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