YouTube music video rating riles up artists
By Kwaak Je-yup
After the culture ministry announced Tuesday that music videos posted online by the industry will be rated by government authorities, some artists protested the decision.
“Music video censorship?” rapper and TV entertainer Eun Ji-won tweeted on the same day. “Is it to create another job post or is it because they really think it’s necessary? No more music videos from me!”
Kwon Sun-wook, music video director and brother of K-pop artist BoA said on the subject, “This will obviously hinder album releases from now and will put the brakes on the K-pop boom.”
Though the amendment to the movie and video content promotion law was ratified by the National Assembly in December without public attention, reactions from the likes of Eun and Kwon have hit the media and social networking services since Tuesday.
From Aug. 18, the new law requires music videos as well as movie trailers posted online by artists, producers, management companies and distributors, even offered for free consumption, to be rated prior to upload by the Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB) or face up to two years in jail or a fine of up to 20 million won ($17,760). Only video content that cost money to view was hitherto subjected to the measure but the increasing use of sites like YouTube for the promotion of artists and films moved authorities to act.
“Until now, TV stations were responsible for music videos before airing them, but the new amendment means those online music video clips offered not for profit will also be rated by the KMRB,” said the written statement released Tuesday. “It is a measure initiated by the National Assembly, in order to regulate the unfiltered flow online of music videos that tend to contain more explicit or violent material than TV programs, to solve problems involving minors.”
Even though the KMRB also put out a press release claiming that there would be no censorship involved, artists, the industry and fans seem unconvinced, as the government has shown for decades that it wants to take a hands-on approach to what is said in entertainment circles. The board also addressed concerns about bureaucracy, saying it is “prepared” to handle the workload and rate the music videos in a timely fashion, in five to seven days.
Still, given the usual pattern of promotion, which starts with the unveiling of music videos online before releasing a commercial single or appearing on TV, some disturbances are expected.
Though Koreans are the most avid consumers of Internet pornography in the world, what is said in the public sphere and aired in the media abide by a strict code of conduct. TV dramas are demure with on-screen kisses only slightly more present than in Bollywood films. The KMRB was also the body that recommended an adult-only rating for Lady Gaga’s second tour “Born This Way Ball,” attracting worldwide attention to the content that turned out to be not explicit.
The latest controversy only further exposes the generation gap that exists between the older civil servants and younger generations that have grown up on content from the United States, Europe and Japan. The culture ministry declined to comment on its latest measure.
Meanwhile, the film industry, whose trailers will have to be rated before distribution on YouTube, has not officially reacted to the impending step, which will be fine-tuned over a three-month provisional period.
Those non-business individuals uploading their own material on YouTube, blogs or Internet bulletin boards will not face the same regulations.