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2009-12-01 오후 11:35:59 (조회수 : 6326)    
  제목 : Tbs eFM aspires to serve as bridge[코리아해럴드]

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Tbs eFM (101.3 Mhz), the nation`s leading English radio station, is on a mission to serve as a bridge connecting Korea and its culture to the foreign community here.

"Our job at tbs eFM is to connect the expats to Korea and show them what Korea is all about. That is our mission," tbs CEO Lee Joon-ho said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

Essentially, tbs is focused on offering traffic data but has lately been expanding to provide a wider range of lifestyle tips for Seoul residents.

It expanded a bit further last December with the launch of tbs eFM.

The English station, tbs (95.1 Mhz), tbs TV and tbs DMB are the four broadcast divisions under Lee`s helm. They are all under the jurisdiction of Seoul City.

Among them, tbs eFM is the youngest and is marking its first birthday today.

The biggest challenge for tbs eFM, like any other English-speaking media here, is how it identifies itself in terms of a target audience.

"For us, though, it seemed pretty straight-forward. We`re here to cater to the foreign community and serve as a bridge between the foreign nationals, the expats and Korea," Lee said.

After all, tbs eFM was born from the administration`s calls for the nation to shrug off its xenophobic image once and for all to embrace globalization.

This does not mean, the CEO stressed, that the station disregards the Korean audience in any way.

"It is simply that our core mission will stay unchanged. For the Korean audience, we`ll also be continuing our efforts to make tbs eFM accessible, while doing our best to offer top quality broadcasts focusing on areas that Koreans are interested in, such as current affairs," Lee said.

Buttressed by the increasing volume of foreign nationals, not to mention a strong domestic demand for English education, tbs eFM has come a long way despite its young life, Lee said.

Industry watchers believe the market has considerable potential for growth given the nation`s aspirations to identify itself as a multicultural society. So far this year tbs eFM has generated 600 million won ($517,000) in ad profit. It is aiming for 1 billion won next year.

Its sister firm tbs is not permitted to run commercials for profit.

The English broadcasting market last year was estimated to be worth around $600 million.

"The ads speak for themselves," Lee pointed out.

In the long run, the station envisions creating a sweeping holding company operating both tbs and tbs eFM.

"We want this to become a truly national network catering to people all over the country," the CEO said.

English radio stations currently are operating in Busan and Gwangju, both under the name of eFM. The station hopes to expand this network to include more major metropolitan cities in Korea with tbs eFM as the flagship station.

The station is currently looking into partnerships with cities of Ulsan, Daegu and Daejeon.

Securing a bigger government budget to cover such expenses is a prerequisite for the expansion of tbs, he said.

Responding to criticism that the station may be excessively government-friendly, the station CEO said tbs simply chooses to pick its battles and not engage in fruitless debates: "We do not want to get embroiled in affairs that are not in the interest of the public."

The quality of broadcasting should never be sacrificed for the sake of sensationalism, he added.

(jemmie@heraldm.com)

By Kim Ji-hyun