SBS under fire for biased exposé on brawl between Fifty Fifty, Attrakt

A captured image from SBS's recent episode on girl group Fifty Fifty's conflict with its agency Attrakt [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Broadcasting company SBS came under fire for a biased portrayal of the ongoing brawl between girl group Fifty Fifty and its agency Attrakt in a recent episode of its investigative exposé show "Unanswered Questions" Saturday, leading the channel operator to take down any related videos from its official YouTube channel three days later.

SBS ran an episode on Saturday night on Fifty Fifty's legal battle against Attrakt, which has been ongoing since June, under the title, "Billboard and girl group — Who broke the wings," referencing the girl group's biggest hit, "Cupid," which was released last February.

The episode explained the back-and-forth between Fifty Fifty, Attrakt CEO Oscar Jun and Ahn Sung-il, the CEO of production company The Givers who has been accused of taking the girl group's song's copyright without informing the agency. The spat between the two have been reported on by the local press over the past two months.

The program did not reveal any new information that would significantly change the consensus of the general public, which had overall been tending to side with Jun and Attrakt, as opposed to the newly-debuted quartet that was demanding freedom from its agency, but instead showed clips of interviews with The Givers employees, Fifty Fifty members and their families.

The show portrayed the members as innocent victims who had sacrificed their lives to become K-pop idols, as they're referred to in Korea, and showed the K-pop system as exploiting young teenagers to make money — using the imagery of casino tables and chips to depict how the system works.

Complaints posted on SBS's website after the Fifty Fifty episode of ″Unanswered Questions″ aired on Aug. 19 [SCREEN CAPTURE]
The logo of K-pop agency Attrakt, home to girl group Fifty Fifty, on Aug. 17 [YONHAP]

Following the episode, SBS was bombarded with complaints from viewers on the website's dashboard. Over 170 posts have been uploaded as of Tuesday, demanding either an apology from the producers or that the show be shut down altogether.

The entertainment industry also called out SBS for showing biased content and unfairly describing the market system as a whole.

The Korea Entertainment Producer's Association (KEPA) and the Korea Management Federation (KMF) demanded an apology from the producers and a correction report in official statements released Tuesday.

"The producers of 'Unanswered Questions' only reported on the unverified, emotional pleas of Fifty Fifty's side without properly checking the facts," KEPA said in a statement echoed by CEMA. "The program also denounced the pop culture industry as a gambling table and the hard-working producers as gamblers by using casino tables and chips to portray the situation."

"Broadcasters are obligated to help viewers see issues in the fairest and most objective way possible," the statement continued. "We therefore demand the program's chief be punished and that SBS also be penalized by the Korea Communications Standards Commission."

SBS has taken down related videos from Saturday's episode from its YouTube channel, but the episode is still available for replay on its website. SBS has not released a formal statement regarding the issue.