MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation) (Hangul : 문화방송주식회사, Munhwa Bangsong Jushikhoesa) is one of four major national South Korean television and radio networks, and is the oldest among all commercial broadcasting networks in South Korea. Munhwa is the Korean word for “culture”. Its flagship terrestrial television station is Channel 14 for Digital and Cable. Twice government owned, the network is managed by the Foundation of Broadcast Culture (which owns 70% of the company’s stock), while the Jung-Su Scholarship Foundation owns 30%. MBC receives no government subsidy, and derives its income almost entirely from commercial advertising. It has 19 regional stations, and 10 subsidiaries. The network evolved from Busan Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, the first private broadcasting corporation in the country. As of 2011, MBC has over 4,000 employees. It has provided terrestrial digital TV service in the ATSC format since 2001, and T-DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) service since 2005.
MBC began as Busan Munhwa Bangsong (Busan Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, or Busan MBC), and was established in 1959 in Busan, South Korea. The radio station was then owned by Jeong Hwan-ok (a radio-store operator) and Kim Sang-yong (a former department-store owner). Jeong had suggested that Kim open a private broadcasting station; Kim was looking for a new business opportunity, and at that time Japanese stations dominated the south coastal Korean radio dial. On April 15, 1959 the postal ministry authorized Busan MBC to operate, making it Korea’s first private commercial broadcaster. Busan MBC began its service with a 1 kW AM station, and became known for broadcasting the first CM Song in South Korea.
The company, however, faced financial problems: production costs for a local radio station were
higher than expected, and advertising did not generate sufficient revenue. The network also faced a management crisis. In September 1959 Busan MBC was sold to Kim Ji-tae, who owned the Busan Daily. Its management was revamped, and the network was saved from bankruptcy. After the network was rejuvenated, Kim decided to launch a private radio station in Seoul. That year, the postal ministry had approved four private stations. Kim purchased the right to operate a radio station in Seoul and launched a network in 1961, with a small AM station (as of 2011, the chief stockholder of Busan MBC is MBC in Seoul); MBC became the first private broadcasting network in South Korea.
After the military coup on May 16th, 1961, the network faced a challenge when Kim was accused by Park Chung-hee (South Korea’s then-President) of corruption. Kim, under pressure, surrendered both Busan MBC and Busan Ilbo to the May 16 Scholarship Foundation in May 1962. It began television broadcasting on August 8, 1969 (MBC-TV was the third TV network in South Korea; the first is KBS-TV which was launched on December 31, 1961 while the second, TBC-TV, which is owned by Joong-ang Ilbo, was launched in 1965) and FM radio broadcasts in 1971. However, when the network faced severe financial problems to promote its television network, Park Chung-hee ordered 11 major companies to buy out 70% of MBC stocks from May 16 Scholarship Foundation to provide its financial support. Until 1980, these major companies could not sell MBC stocks nor request dividends from MBC without the government’s approval.
Under the Chun Doo-hwan regime, South Korea’s media policy had changed. The regime had closed several private commercial radio and TV networks and most of MBC’s shares were taken by the government; MBC lost its position as a private broadcaster. On November 14, 1980, 70% of the network’s stock was given to the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).
Partly to address concerns following the country’s 1987 democratic reforms, the National Assembly established the Foundation for Broadcast Culture on December 26, 1988 to insulate MBC from political influence and KBS. Now, the network is owned by the Foundation of Broadcast Culture (which owns 70% of the company’s stock) while the Jung-Su Scholarship Foundation (former May 16 Scholarship Foundation) owns 30%. Although the network is now managed by the Foundation, MBC has maintained its role as a commercial broadcaster. MBC has had a jingle since 1969: Korean: “MBC…문화방송”, “MBC…Munhwa Bangsong” in romanization and “MBC…Munhwa Broadcasting” in English; it was also used in 1994 for the silver anniversary of MBC-TV.
In 1991, MBC, the first private commercial broadcaster network in South Korea, lost its monopoly when the government allowed the second private commercial broadcaster station SBS to begin broadcasting on MBC 30th Anniversary, December 2–9, 1991. MBC and SBS celebrated their anniversary at December 1992 in MBC 31st Anniversary and SBS 2nd Anniversary on December 2–9, 1992. It also done in 1996, to celebrate MBC 35th Anniversary and SBS 6th Anniversary.
In 2001, MBC launched satellite and cable television broadcasting. As part of this expansion it created MBC America, a subsidiary based in Los Angeles, California, USA, to distribute its programming throughout the Americas. On August 1, 2008 MBC America launched MBC-D, a television network carried on the digital subchannels of KSCI-TV, KTSF-TV, and WMBC-TV. The service was planned to be launched in Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. by the end of the year.
On October 21, 2011, the heads of MBC and Google