And Now, South Korea Gets a Word From Its Sponsors

Long a holdout, Seoul legalizes commercials within programs
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2007 10:55 AM CST
South Korean television will feature in-show ads for the first time after years of lobbying by advertisers.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – South Koreans long accustomed to watching uninterrupted boob tube are about to get a jolt of commercial reality—the Korean broadcasting agency has bowed to years of pressure and will at last legalize ads during TV shows. Laws had forbidden even private channels from commercial interruptions, and ads were screened in blocks after shows, which most viewers switched off, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Television stations have found it difficult to sell more than two-thirds of their ad space even for the most popular programs. One prime-time drama was pulling a 30% audience share, but only 5% of viewers watched the commercials before and after. Advertisers are delighted but wonder if the change hasn't come too late: in a country saturated with broadband access, many viewers watch TV online—and skip the ads.