The mess with Mnet’s gaggle of reality programs has not ended yet, with the latest revelation coming from ‘Idol School’, the show that created Fromis 9. In the end, the producers admitted to rigging members into the group, but said they are not guilty of obstruction and fraud essentially because the show was a flop and they were doing it for the benefit of the company.
Kim Tae Eun’s lawyer admitted to all charges yet pleaded not guilty by stating, “While Kim Tae Eun is regretful of his actions with no intentions of making excuses, his actions do not legally constitute a crime.” In particular, Kim Tae Eun’s lawyer stressed the basis of pleading not guilty by explaining, “The victim of interference of business is CJ ENM, but they are also the beneficiary of the fraud. It is a strange framework.” The chief producer’s lawyer further continued, “Votes that came in through text messaging were worth 10 percent of the general results while online votes were given no weight. But because of the low viewership ratings and poor viewer participation rates, the results were subject to lean heavily with just family or acquaintance votes. As less distinctive contestants unexpectedly received higher ranks due to this phenomenon, there was pressure that viewership ratings would further drop and the program would fall to pieces. In turn, the weight of online votes were adjusted to be worth 5 percent without notice to viewers, and rankings were partially manipulated.” By claiming that “tallying up votes and ranking contestants are a part of the producer’s individual responsibilities and therefore hard to categorize as an interference of business,” Kim Tae Eun’s lawyer further denied the charges. The lawyer added, “It was for the well-being of the firm. In certain cases, an individual may be at fault if acting for the good of a company negatively affects a third party. But in this situation, it seems like an overinterpretation of the charge of obstruction of business.”
As for “Kim,” who was put on trial on the same charges, their lawyer stated, “The indictment is for conspiring with Kim Tae Eun. But since no such conspiracy took place, ‘Kim’ will be pleading not guilty. Even if the charge is acknowledged, only consequences related to being an accessory will be reasonable.”
In the end, three members were rigged into the final group.
Even if one were to buy the excuse that it’s okay to rig a show if it helps the company (which … no), I can’t see how that isn’t fraud on the viewers just because they felt certain members would net better ratings. The whole appeal of these survival shows is the perception, no matter how deluded, that the viewers have control and are paying for that privilege. It’s a corporate scam if it’s predetermined.
What makes it worse is that in addition to being rigged, they treated the contestants like shit when none of them had a chance to begin with if they weren’t a favorite of the producer.