From illegal copying to licensed formats : an overview of imported format flows into Korea 1999-2011

Kang, Jennifer Minsoo
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The format program trade has grown rapidly in the past decade and has become an important part of the global television market. This study aimed to give an understanding of this phenomenon by examining how global formats enter and become incorporated into the national media market through a case study analysis on the Korean format market. Analyses were done to see how the historical background influenced the imported format flows, how the format flows changed after the media liberalization period, and how the format uses changed from illegal copying to partial formats to whole licensed formats. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the global format program flows are different from the whole 'canned' program flows because of the adaptation processes, which is a form of hybridity, the formats go through. Previous studies tend to simplify the adaptation process of format programs by just seeing it as a proof of nationalization, but this study found that format adaptations are much complicated. The way the formats were adapted to the local context differed by specific situations, such as cultural proximity, political ties with other countries, channel identities, target audiences, format genres, or conditions of the format license contracts. Moreover, there were also differences in where the initiative to make such adaptations came from. Thus, this study argues that format program flows are one of the many sub-flows in television program flows which complicate our understanding of what 'global' media is.