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The media market in South Korea has been dominated by increased activity in the OTT market, which has led to heightened competition and subsequent consolidation.


Network provider SK Telecom and three terrestrial TV broadcasters agreed to merge their OTT platforms to compete with global streaming leaders Netflix and YouTube.


The deal was announced in January 2019 and brings together SK Telecom's Oksusu and Pooq, which is jointly owned by KBS, MBC and SBS.

The new OTT platform will have more than

13 million subscribers.


Commenting on market activity, Dong-Shik Choi, Partner at Kim & Chang, said: “Netflix has made

a full-fledged entrance into the Korean market.

It recently launched its service on LG Uplus’ IPTV platform in partnership with LG Uplus, and has been actively creating content for Korean viewers through domestic production companies.” 


He added: “In response, domestic players are making efforts to improve their service and diversify their content to activate their OTT service.”


OTT growth can be partly attributed to a less restrictive regulatory environment than in the past.

However, digital media transformation has led to calls for policy and regulatory changes given that Cable TV and IPTV are more heavily regulated than OTT services.


Mr Choi explained: “With the growth in activity in the OTT service market, there are growing demands that the same level of regulation be applied to OTT services as traditional media, which has led to the introduction of certain bills that aim to strengthen regulation on OTT service providers.”


In related news, the Ministry of Science and ICT reported an increase in the rate of subscribers in the first half of 2018. The average number of IPTV subscribers accounted for 46.5 per cent of total paid broadcast and media subscribers.


Mr Choi commented: “Such increase in subscribers and business has led to an active M&A market in the media sector, whereby IPTV service providers are actively acquiring cable TV networks. Prominent examples include KT and LG Uplus currently in negotiations to acquire D’live and CJ Hello, respectively.”

SOUTH KOREA

TIER 1

The team at Bae, Kim  & Lee has in-depth industry knowledge. The firm’s client base includes broadcast companies, advertising and event promotion firms, sports associations and individual performers such as actors and athletes. The practice represents several Korean cable television content providers, US networks and leading sports and animated programming channels. Hoo Dong Lee and Kap-You Kim are the firm’s key practitioners who also advise on copyright, licensing and intellectual property transactions.


Media lawyers at Kim  & Chang advise some of the country’s most prominent clients. The firm has an established TMT division with 20 years of sector specialisation. Lawyers act for foreign broadcasting companies, online game developers and e-commerce companies. In highlighted work, the team represented iHQ, a leading Korean entertainment company and CU Media, a broadcasting programme provider, in the largest domestic transaction involving an entertainment content producer and a broadcast channel programme provider.   


TIER 2

Hwang Mok Parks entertainment, e-commerce and communications division assists with regulatory matters, corporate transactions and litigation. Lawyers advise on sponsorship contracts in the sports and entertainment industry and negotiate copyright agreements. The firm is also involved in legislative amendments of the broadcasting act.


Lee & Ko has two decades of industry specialisation coupled with in-depth coverage of cases connected with satellite broadcasting, online gaming and c-ecommerce. Department leader Kwang Bae Park has exceptional experience assisting clients with online regulatory issues such as privacy and advertisement. Mr Park is also an experienced litigator assisting with cases of ground-wave re-transmission between cable television companies and ground-wave broadcasting companies.


Yulchon acts for local and international clients from media and communications sectors. Lawyers advise on regulation and disputes regarding multi-channel pay-television platforms such as IPTV and satellite broadcasting. Other work relates to disputes and litigation between media and telecommunication corporations. Key practitioner Doil Son, who formerly served as a district court judge, focusses on mergers and acquisitions, data privacy and cyber security.


TIER 3

Copyright specialist Barun Law handles management and licensing of copyrights and related disputes. Lawyers act for entertainment and sports companies on diverse intellectual property matters. The practice brings together a range of service areas to provide extensive coverage of cases that involve antitrust, litigation and product liability.


With a broadcasting focus, Shin & Kim  routinely assists with approvals, operations and mergers and acquisitions of cable, terrestrial and satellite broadcasters. In highlighted work, the team advised on a joint venture between SBS and CNBC and represented Next Entertainment World on investment by China’s Huace Film & TV. The team also advises on privacy and copyright matters.


The TMT division at Yoon & Yang provides cross-practice advisory and regulatory services, working closely with the entertainment and sports practice. Lawyers provide advice on antitrust laws and intellectual property to domestic and foreign companies investing in the local media market.


Ranking and editorials

TIER 1

Bae, Kim & Lee

Kim & Chang


TIER 2

Hwang Mok Park

Lee & Ko

Jipyong  

Yulchon


TIER 3

Barun Law

Shin & Kim

Yoon & Yang


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