There has been much controversy about vote manipulation in competitive audition shows. Another popular program has shocked netizens as it has been revealed that three members of a girl group fromis_9 were changed out by vote manipulation.
The producer in charge (CP) of Mnet's audition program 'Idol School,' which aired in 2017, reportedly admitted to manipulating the votes during his first trial.
Kim Sung Hoon, the senior judge at the Seoul Central District Court, held the first trial of CP Kim and CJENM director Kim, who were handed over to trial on charges of obstruction of business and fraud.
On November 9, CP Kim's lawyer acknowledged all the facts but legally claimed innocence. He claimed, "We have no excuse for causing damage to viewers who voted with affection for the cast. However, the cast members were ranked in a different way than was originally notified to the audience. The defendant is claiming innocence whether he can be punished for obstruction of business and fraud."
CP Kim stated, "The text votes were supposed to weigh ten times the normal vote. However, distortion occurred because there were only a few text votes and also low viewer ratings. We saw that there was a sharp rise in the ranking of certain performers as their families mobilized other family members, relatives, and acquaintances to vote. We felt if we keep at it, we will lose more viewer ratings, and the program will fail. So we weighed the online votes to weigh five times as much as well."
He added, "It's not that we didn't reflect the text votes at all. We just weighed the online votes to be five times more." CP Kim continued to state that he wonders if this can be seen as manipulating and deceiving the viewers.
Director Kim of CJENM denied the entire indictment. Director Kim's lawyer stated, "The prosecution believed that the defendant decided to exclude contestants from the final selection by discussing the elimination of certain cast members ahead of the 11th live broadcast with CP Kim. However, he does not have any recollection of the incident. There were 16 programs managed at the time, but the director did not have the time to engage and discuss in detail certain programs. CP Kim and the main producers have the authority to decide the composition and edition of the broadcast programs."
Earlier, Kim CP was put on trial for obstructing CJENM's broadcasting production work by manipulating the rankings of 33 people and selecting three members who did not make the final ranking to be part of the debut group on September 22, 2017.
He is also accused of collecting 15 million KRW (~$13,411) in profits from about 69,000 viewers and 3 million KRW (~$2,700) in profits from a settlement after lying to viewers that they can decide on the debut group through a paid text vote from July 20 to September 22.
The prosecution judged that director Kim received a report from CP Kim when selecting the debut member for the last episode and approved it. Prosecutors handed Director Kim over to trial on charges of conspiracy.
Meanwhile, their next trial is scheduled for January 14 of next year.