Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Have Koreanovelas washed out Filipino soaps?

Via the PCIJ is the following PIDS study on the Philippine audio-visual industry. The authors argue that foreign-made soaps are popular for the following reasons:
Consequently, there are several factors why Korean dramas are successful in the international market. One is its urban appeal. Most of the dramas are shot in the cities. Beautiful settings and background music also helped the programs penetrate the international market. For instance, Endless Love was commended for the luscious/lavish use of music (including Western classics such as Romance d'amour), which makes the drama even more unforgettable. The more poetic and imaginative ways of expressing love also makes Korean romance dramas outstand other dramas. Almost all Korean dramas circulated around the overseas market are romance dramas. Romance stories have been a universal genre in TV dramas, reflecting the appeal of fantasized love relationship in audience' everyday life, and the relationship between TV dramas and viewers. Many viewers seem to prefer Korean dramas in that they deal with romance in a way that stands them out from other counterparts. The melodramatic effect of the Korean dramas also captured the viewers. Whereas other romance dramas tend to spoil the audience with happy ending, many Korean dramas are infused with unrequited love, rivalries between families, and failed romance. Tragedy seems to be a defining feature especially in Korean dramas, in which the male and female leads often suffer from sickness, and even death.
C'est la vie. So why is local entertainment fare so abysmal? I'm not talking about why we don't crank out the artsy-fartsy stuff. (Not that I don't like 'em - sometimes.) I'm talking about competent entertainment, decent escapist fare for the masses. (That includes me.)

Well don't ask me about cultural reasons. Let me just point out the following:
The industry is also among the heavily taxed entertainment industry in Asia. Among such taxes is the amusement tax which the local government imposed on the theater owners. This tax amounts to 30 percent of the gross receipts from the ticket sales. Aside from the amusement tax, there are also 10 percent VAT on film shares and post-production costs; P0.25 per ticket for cultural tax; P8,000 to 10,000 classification fee per film by the MTRCB, custom duty on imported unexposed films needed for filming and exhibition; and 32 percent corporate tax. In addition, there are also taxes for importing equipment and machineries needed for shooting films and printing the advertisements. On average, importing these machineries is subject to 6 percent tax rate but since these equipments cost thousands of pesos, the import costs sum up to a significant amount.
Meanwhile, what was India doing?
In addition to tax reduction, the government can also provide tax incentives for the investors and theater owners in upgrading their cinemas. The Indian government did these measures precisely to help its domestic industry. With the advent of digital technology and the identification of Bollywood as a priority export sector, the Government reduced the basic import duties on certain digital studio equipment, benefiting the content producers and other media companies in India. The government also initiated various tax incentives to investors investing in multiplexes in the rural areas. Bank and institutional funding was made available to single screen owners to upgrade their existing theatres to multiplexes. Over 100 cinema halls have been converted into digital theatres over the past 2 years.
Yep - whether art, culture, soap operas, economics is everywhere. Question is: is the growth of a quality domestic film industry worth the foregone revenue and cost of providing incentives? Don't know the answer to that one. And watching the wasteland of local shows these days, somehow I really don't give a damn.

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