On January 14, a secondary court hearing for the manipulation of Mnet's 'Produce' survival series took place at Seoul's central district court office, with the legal representatives of Ahn Joon Young PD, Kim Yong Bum CP, and Lee PD present.
These three Mnet staff members are facing charges of interference of business, fraudulent manipulation of broadcast content, acceptance of bribery, etc.
According to the court, "These three individual are currently claiming that while they admit to the overall accusations of manipulating the programs, they are not responsible for any unlawful activity; we cannot accept these claims. They have stated that the manipulations took place for the sake of success, but we cannot accept that the manipulations were carried out without ill-intentions. Furthermore, we cannot accept the claims that the manipulations were not on an unlawful level, when discussions of this criminal activity took place internally before being carried out." The court then requested that Ahn PD, Kim CP, and Lee PD's legal representatives explain their stances, asking, "If you are admitting that the broadcasts were manipulated for the sake of success, then isn't it correct to plead guilty?"
Furthermore, it's been reported that Ahn PD, Kim CP, and Lee PD's side refused to accept the prosecution's comparison of their manipulative activity into the potential amount of damages incurred through the viewers' paid voting. The prosecution attempted to analyze approximately how much viewers were scammed when taking into account the amount of manipulated votes multiplied among the trainees who earned their rankings unfairly. On top of that, the prosecution's side added up how much real viewers paid to cast their votes, despite the fact that the winning trainees were often already predetermined. However, the defendants' side demanded that these 'damages incurred' must be re-calculated, and asked to suggest a different means of assessing the damages by the next hearing.
Meanwhile, the prosecution's side will be requesting to summon witnesses against the defendants by the next hearing date, including Mnet's Han Dong Chul PD as well as scriptwriter Park of seasons 1-3. The next court hearing date involving Ahn PD, Kim CP, and Lee PD will take place on February 7.