Korean Broadcasting System

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Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)
Type Broadcast radio and
Country South Korea
Availability National
Slogan Fulfilling the People's Devotion Through Broadcasting
Headquarters Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Owner Government of South Korea
Launch date
February 16, 1927 (radio)
October 1, 1961 (television)
March 3, 1973 "public broadcasting stations" status
2001 (Digital Television)
Picture format
1080i (HDTV)
Official website
Korean name
Hanja 韓國放送公社
Revised Romanization Han-guk Bangsong Gongsa
McCune–Reischauer Han'guk Pangsong Kongsa

Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) (Korean: 한국 방송 공사, Hanguk Bangsong Gongsa) is a South Korean radio and television network, founded in 1927. It is the biggest out of the four major South Korean television networks.

KBS headquarters in Seoul


KBS began as Kyeongseong Broadcasting Corporation (JODK, 경성방송국, 京城放送局) that was established by the Governor-General of Korea in Korea on February 16, 1927. This second radio station started using the call sign HLKA in 1947 after the Republic of Korea got the call sign HL of the International Telecommunication Union. After doing a national broadcast, the radio was renamed Seoul Central Broadcasting Station in 1948.

Television broadcasts in South Korea began on 12 May 1956 with the first television station HLKZ-TV. It was sold to KBS in 1961. KBS station status changed from government to public broadcasting station on March 3, 1973. Construction of KBS headquarters in Yeouido started in 1976. In 1979, KBS radio began broadcasting on the FM wave with the launch of KBS Stereo (Now KBS 1FM).

Differing from other public broadcasters in the world that do not accept advertising, apart from television fees, part of KBS revenue also comes from advertisers. KBS began accepting advertising in 1980 after the forced merger of some private commercial broadcasting stations like Tongyang Broadcasting Company (TBC), which some consider the forerunner of JTBC, and Dong-A Broadcasting System (DBS), the former body of Channel A, into KBS by the military government. Under the Chun Doo-hwan regime, South Korea's media policy had changed; the regime closed several private commercial radio and television stations and merged them with KBS. After the merger with Tongyang Broadcasting Company (TBC) and DBS, KBS changed the name of these channels to from DBS to KBS Radio 5 (now a defunct radio station. 792 kHz frequency now owned by Seoul Broadcasting System.) (AM) TBC-FM to KBS Radio 4 (Now KBS Cool FM) and television station TBC-TV to KBS 2TV in 1980 and created KBS 3TV and Educational FM in 1981.

On December 27, 1990, KBS 3TV and Educational FM split from KBS and changed its name to Educational Broadcasting System (EBS). After the revision of the television fee collection system in 1994, KBS 1TV no longer airs commercials.


KBS Cool FM Radio studios.
KBS annex, formerly the headquarters of Tongyang Broadcasting Company
KBS regional broadcasting station in Changwon

KBS is a 'public organization' (공사, 公社) that, by law, receives public funding from the South Korean government but is independently managed. As mentioned on the South Korean Constitution, the president of KBS is recommended by its board of directors to the President of South Korea. Political parties in South Korea have the right to name members of the board of directors of KBS. Since the President of South Korea usually has leadership over the members of the ruling party, KBS's president is considered to be designated by the President of South Korea. This procedure has incurred worries of political intervention in KBS's governance and has led to many thinking that the current system of recruiting needs to be revised.

Around 37.8% of its revenue comes from a mandatory Television Licence Fee priced at 2,200 won, while 47.6% of the revenue comes from commercial advertisement sales.[1] For national or governmental programs such as International Radio service (KBS World Radio) and the Radio service for physically handicapped people, KBS receives public funds from the South Korean government.


Terrestrial television[edit]

  • KBS 1TV - Airs news, current affairs, education, sports, and culture. It launched in 1961 as HLKA-TV. It is known in English as KBS One. KBS 1TV solely runs on license fee and does not show any commercials. It is on national terrestrial digital channel 9. It is similar to BBC One and Nederland 1. KBS 1TV is also showing public information films made by KBS and entertainment programming, but the rest are on KBS 2TV.[2]
  • KBS 2TV - Airs entertainment and drama only. It launched in 1980 as a replacement for the defunct Tongyang Broadcasting Corporation, not to be mistaken as TBC-TV (an SBS affiliate in Daegu, South Korea), which merged with KBS. It is known as KBS Two in English. It is on national terrestrial digital channel 7. It is similar to BBC Two and Nederland 2.[2]
  • KBS UHDTV - Ultra High Definition Broadcast. Airs music videos and re-runs of KBS Dramas. It is on national terrestrial digital channel 66.[3]

KBS 1TV and KBS 2TV phased out analogue services on December 31, 2012 as part of the switchover to digital television.

Cable and Satellite television (KBS N)[edit]

  • KBS Prime - culture and drama. Launched in 1995 as KBS satellite 2, renamed as KBS Korea in 2002.
  • KBS Drama - formerly KBS Sky Drama. Launched in 2002.
  • KBS N Sports - formerly KBS Sports/KBS Sky Sports. Also launched in 2002.
  • KBS Joy - comedy and quiz show. Launched in 2006.
  • KBS Kids - children's channel. Launched in 2012.[4]
  • KBS W - women's channel. Launched in 2013.[5]

These six channels are carried by cable and satellite operators in South Korea. There are 100+ Cable operators in South Korea and Skylife is the sole satellite television service provider. These channels are managed and operated by KBS N, a subsidiary company of KBS.


  • KBS Radio 1 (711 kHz AM/97.3 MHz FM KBS Radio Seoul) - news, current affairs, drama, documentary and culture. Launched in 1927 as Kyeongseong Broadcasting Corporation JODK and it became KBS Radio 1 in 1965.[6]
  • KBS Radio 2 (603 kHz AM/106.1 MHz FM KBS Happy FM) - entertainment radio for the middle aged. Launched in 1948 as HLSA.[6]
  • KBS Radio 3 (1134 kHz AM/104.9 MHz FM KBS Voice of Love FM) - Launched in 1980, and ceased broadcasting in 1981. It was later replaced by KBS Radio 2's regional radio service and Educational FM (now EBS FM). Later re-launched in 2000 as a spin-off from KBS Radio 2. For the first time in 2010, it was launched on FM and restructured as a radio station for the disabled.[6]2
  • KBS 1FM (93.1 MHz Classic FM) - classical music and folkmusic. Launched in 1979 as KBS Stereo, adopted current name in 1980.[6]
  • KBS 2FM (89.1 MHz/DMB CH 12B Cool FM) - popular music. Launched in 1966 as RSB (Radio Seoul Broadcasting), renamed as TBC-FM in the 1970s, adopted current name in 1980 after TBC-FM forced merged to KBS.[6]2
  • KBS Hanminjok Radio(Literal meaning:KBS Korean Nationality Radio) (6015 MHz Shortwave) (shortwave & mediumwave) - Launched in 1975 as KBS Third Programme.[6]
  • KBS World Radio - international service [see also RFI, BBC World Service and Radio Canada International], as well as satellite and international services.[6]
  1. Does not air any advertisements for funding.
  2. Airs advertisements for funding.




  • 이 중앙방송 입니다. (This is Central Broadcasting. Slogan until early 60's)
  • 국민의방송 KBS. (National Broadcaster KBS. Slogan from early 60's til present)

KBS World[edit]

Main article: KBS World
1235552102 KBS World - Logotype (JPG).jpg

KBS World is the international television and radio service of KBS. It officially launched on July 1, 2003. It is broadcast on a 24hr schedule with programs ranging from news, sports, television dramas, entertainment, and children's. KBS World television is broadcast locally and around the world. As of July 2007, around 65% of its programs are broadcast with English subtitles, it is available in 32 countries, and reportedly more than 40 million households around the world can access KBS World[citation needed]. It has two overseas subsidiaries: KBS America and KBS Japan. KBS Japan is independently operated by a KBS subsidiary in Japan, and most programs are provided with Japanese subtitles.

KBS World television is a television channel that runs mostly programs commissioned for KBS' 2 terrestrial networks: KBS1 and KBS2. KBS World television is distributed over several international communication and broadcasting satellites such as IS-19, IS-20, IS-21, Measat 3, Apstar 6 & 7, Eutelsat Hotbird 13A, Galaxy 11, 18 & 23, Badr 6, Vinasat 1, Palapa D, SES 7, Telkom 1, Thaicom 5, EchoStar 15, Anik F3. Local cable and/or satellite operators receive the signal from one of these satellite and carry the signal to end subscribers of their own networks. KBS doesn't allow individual viewer to receive the signal from IS-19, IS-20, IS-21, Measat 3, Asiasat 5, and Galaxy 18. The signal from Badr 6 is Free-to-Air service while viewers using Eutelsat Hotbird 13A are required to pay monthly subscription fee.

Foreign partners[edit]

Partner Country
Telefe Argentina
ABC and SBS Australia
VRT Belgium
SBT Brazil
CBC Canada
TVN Chile
CCTV China
Caracol TV Colombia
Ecuavisa Ecuador
TF1 France
ARD Germany
TVB Hong Kong
TVRI and RCTI Indonesia
RAI Italy
NHK and TBS Japan
TV3 Malaysia
Televisa Mexico
NPB Netherlands
TVNZ New Zealand
Panamericana Televisión Peru
TVP Poland
RTP Portugal
VGTRK Russia
MediaCorp Singapore
SVT Sweden
TVE Spain
TTV Taiwan
NBT Thailand
BBC United Kingdom
NBC, ABC, CNN and Telemundo United States
TVes Venezuela
VTV Vietnam

One of the most controversial and most oldest controversies of KBS[citation needed] was the forced merger between KBS and five private broadcasting stations TBC or the Tongyang Broadcasting Corporation, DBS or the Donga Broadcasting System, SBC or Seohae Broadcasting Corporation, VOC or Jeonil Broadcasting Corporation and Hanguk-FM in 1980. In 2009 former president Lee Myung-bak said the special law was unconstitutional. In 2011 TBC was reincarnated as JTBC.[citation needed]

The journalists working for KBS (along with MBC, SBS and YTN) have protested against the biased journalism practices that favored the Lee Myung-bak government.[7] The new union for KBS headed by Kim Hyeon-seok released a video clip Reset KBS News 9 (리셋 KBS 뉴스9) on the internet that discusses the Prime Minister's Office Civilian Surveillance Incident and the controversial money-spending on renovating President Lee Myung-bak's alleged birth house on March 13, 2012.[8]

KBS2 Blackout screen capture in January 16, 2010

Bak Han-yong (박한용), head of the Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities, criticized KBS for censoring negative remarks from a documentary about Chinilpa individuals and Rhee Syngman, who had pardoned them.[9] This includes the Chinilpa Paik Sun-yup.[10]

KBS is also known for banning songs that "stimulates sex desire or are sexually explicit to youth", "urges violence or crime to youth", or "glamorizes violence such as rape, and drugs" which they classified as a "medium offensive to youth".[citation needed] They also ban songs that mention brand names. KBS World TV and Radio is also excused[citation needed] because it is aired overseas but not in Korea.

In January 16, 2010 South Korea witnessed a public dispute between KBS and the Korea Cable TV Association (KCTA) over an issue of re-transmission fees. The KCTA sought to push down fees from major broadcasting channels like KBS for re-transmitting their programs through cable. KBS had demanded 280 won per subscriber, while the cable TV system operators (or ‘SOs’) wanted no more than 100 won. Negotiations reached a standstill, and so the SOs decided to make KBS2 programs unavailable to viewers. Following the blackout, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) has ordered the SOs to resume transmission or face a hefty fine. The SOs initially refused this, but as of 7:00 p.m. (KST) on January 17th, they agreed to resume KBS2 transmissions, thus ending the 28-hour blackout.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ KBS Annual Report 2006-2007, KBS, 2007.(As mentioned on page 30)
  2. ^ a b "Channel Info". KBS English. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Broadcasting Tests Begin for Ultra High Definition". KBS English. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "KBS Launches Children’s Channel". Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. 2012-05-29. 
  5. ^ "Korea debuts cable channel dedicated to women". Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Channel Info". KBS English. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "SKorea journalists protest alleged pro-gov't bias". Associated Press. 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  8. ^ Cho (조), Hyeon-ho (현호) (2012-03-14). "이명박 태어나지도 않은 생가에 혈세 펑펑". MediaToday (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  9. ^ Cho (조), Hyeon-ho (현호) (2011-06-07). "KBS는 정권재창출 위한 독재자·친일파 방송". MediaToday (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  10. ^ Cho (조), Hyeon-ho (현호) (2011-06-25). "KBS 친일파를 영웅으로···시청자 '경악' "친일방송축하"". MediaToday (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  11. ^ "Cable TV operators end 28-hour KBS blackout". http://onekpop.com/. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Cable System Operators to Stop Broadcasting KBS 2TV". Arirang (TV network). Retrieved 23 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°31′31″N 126°54′59″E / 37.52538°N 126.916361°E / 37.52538; 126.916361