Audition show producers arrested for alleged vote rigging
SEOUL-- A Seoul court approved arrest warrants Tuesday for two producers of a popular K-pop TV show over vote-rigging allegations.
Following a hearing earlier in the day, the Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant to formally detain the program director in a scandal involving "Produce X 101," a fan-voted idol competition show that ran on cable channel Mnet. The chief producer of the show was also detained.
The court said it accepted the need to approve the warrants considering the role played by the two in the scandal and the severity of the accusations raised.
Requests for warrants to arrest two others involved in the incident were rejected.
Police have been investigating allegations that production staffs manipulated mobile text message-based voting results to include some contestants in X1, a band composed of the show's final 11 winners.
An additional charge of dereliction of duty was added to the producer for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for the manipulation.
The voting results came into the spotlight soon after the final episode of the cable TV show aired in July.
Fans questioned the results as some promising contenders who outperformed rivals throughout the season were eliminated, while some candidates unexpectedly made it on the winners list.
Angry fans accused the show of rigging the final vote count, referring to dubious numerical patterns in the final count, even releasing a statement and lodging a legal complaint.
The scandal developed into an investigation involving the show's chief producer, production staff members and multiple police raids on CJ ENM, the headquarter of Mnet, including one earlier in the day.
Police also searched five talent agencies, including Starship Entertainment, which represents two of X1's 11 members.
Despite the controversy, the final 11 winners made their debut as boy band X1 in late August.
Mnet, which had remained mostly silent on the issue, released an official apology Tuesday.
"We are again deeply sorry to viewers and fans who loved 'Produce X,' contestants and talent agency officials," the company said in a statement.
"We will cooperate with the investigation and take responsibility for areas that we are accountable for according to the probe results."
Shares of CJ ENM, which mostly traded in red throughout Tuesday's trading session, closed 0.46 percent higher at 174,000 won (US$150.30).
Source: Yonhap News Agency