On December 30, CJ ENM’s CEO Heo Min Heoi held a press conference to make a formal apology regarding the manipulation controversy surrounding the “Produce 101” series.
He explained that CJ ENM will be compensating everyone harmed due to the incident. Regarding IZ*ONE and X1, he shared that they are working on plans for the groups to resume activities, and Mnet will give up all resulting profits towards a fund.
His full statement is as follows:
Hello. This is CJ ENM’s CEO Heo Min Heoi.
First of all, I bow my head in apology for causing much disappointment to everyone with the series of incidents related to Mnet. It is especially heartbreaking to think about the pain received by the many trainees who poured in all their passion just to achieve the dream of debuting. I am very apologetic.
I also feel apologetic beyond words to the fans and viewers who took valuable time to support the program through means such as text voting.
Without any excuses, this incident is our fault. I feel strong responsibility as the CEO. I once again apologize.
Thinking about the pain and disappointment that you have received, I know that no actions will be enough.. However, we plan on doing everything we can to at least correct mistakes now and heal the wounds of the victims.
First of all, regarding the trainees who received harm due to ranking manipulation of Mnet’s audition program including the “Produce 101” series, we will take complete responsibility and compensate them. In addition to definite financial compensation, we will take the necessary measures to support their future activities and provide practical damage relief through in-depth discussion with relevant individuals.
All profits that have been received by Mnet through manipulated programs, along with the profits that will be received in the future, will be given up. We expect that a fund of about 30 billion won (approximately $25.9 million) can be developed as a result. This fund will be operated by an external independent organization and will be used for the active development of the music industry and continuous growth of K-pop.
Regarding the specific plans of the fund operation, they will be announced once the details are finalized.
Necessary actions to strengthen the fairness and transparency of broadcasts will also be taken quickly.
A Viewer Committee, including individuals such as external content experts, will be installed, and the production processes of programs will be transparent. In addition, the internal broadcasting code of ethics will be renewed, and training on this will be intensified.
Through this, we will thoroughly check if there are wrong actions taking place like normal practices or basic morals being given up in exchange for viewership ratings, and we will correct them.
Regarding the matters that are currently under investigation, we promise to diligently cooperate with the investigative agencies until not even a single suspicion remains. Depending on the result, we will take strict internal measures as necessary.
We are fully responsible for this incident. We will also provide all possible support for the IZ*ONE and X1 members to resume activities. Considering the emotional pain and pressure that the members are experiencing along with the opinions of many fans who support the resumption of their activities, we will works to continuously discuss plans for IZ*ONE and X1 to be able to resume activities as soon as possible. As mentioned previously, Mnet will give up all profits gained through the future activities of the two groups.
Furthermore, we will quickly carry out specific compensation for damages for everyone who has been harmed due to this incident. This incident is our fault and not the fault of the artists who debuted or of the trainees. We earnestly request that everyone will help protect them together so there will be no more victims. We once again sincerely apologize to the many people who cherish and love Mnet.
CJ ENM’s head of communication Shin Yoon Yong also took time to answer questions afterwards. He said that the original rankings will not be revealed, explaining, “It is most important that harm is not given to trainees who have no fault in this incident. Revealing their rankings regardless of their opinions would not help compensate the damages of the victims. Even if they are discovered in the investigation process, revealing them could cause further harm, so we do not plan on revealing them.”
He continued, “Once the victims are confirmed, we will immediately begin the process of compensating for damages,” and added, “It may become known later on who the victims are and who received benefits, but we internally decided to not reveal this information because it could cause further harm. We will discuss with agencies to arrange measures for supporting the future activities of artists who debuted and of those who were eliminated.”
Shin Yoon Yong also said that they do not have the raw data as only the individual PDs (producing directors) have the information.
When asked what the plan is if eliminated trainees wish to join IZ*ONE or X1, he responded, “This is not a matter for us to decide but what should be agreed upon with the agencies. Judgments will be made through discussions with the members and agencies.”
On IZ*ONE, he commented, “IZ*ONE promoted for over one year. They temporarily halted activities, but they are still contracted. There are also lots of requests from fans. The plan is for them to quickly resume activities.”
Regarding X1, he added, “We are still under discussion with the members and agencies. The resulting plan has not been confirmed yet. We are working on an agreement with adequate consideration of the opinions of the members and agencies. We will share an announcement once it is confirmed.”
He continued, “There are members who debuted in accordance with the actual votes. As their activities were halted, it seems that they have felt strong emotional pain and pressure. Their fans have also shown continuous support for their activities. We have based our judgments based on these factors. We are still discussing with their agencies, but I am aware that somewhat of an agreement has been reached on continuing with the same members. It has not been confirmed though.”
Sources: Naver (1, 2, 3, 4), Soompi.
While I didn't want the groups to disband, I was uncomfortable knowing a big chunk of the profit would go to MNET's shady ass, so I'm glad this issue has been adressed.