Korean television network Mnet could be in trouble over its latest season of Produce X 101.
Angry netizens are reportedly calling the broadcast company out over mathematical inconsistencies spotted during the voting on the last episode of the popular survival audition show that aired last Friday, 19 July.
The controversy began on the day of the popular audition show's finale when the text votes were revealed during its live broadcast. Netizens were alerted when they found that all of the differences in voting from the 1st to the 11th ranking equalled 29,978, and were more suspicious when these differences were found to be multiples of 7,494.5.
In a post shared on Instiz on 19 July , netizens provided alleged proof of the manipulation.
On the morning of July 24, Congressman Ha Tae-kyung of the Bareun Future Party stepped up to address the vote-rigging controversy on his personal Facebook.
"The vote manipulation of such an audition show for young people is an obvious job scam and unreasonable recruitment. They cheated and hurt fans – who sent messages to vote for their idols," he said, according to MK Sports.
Then, he pointed out the evidence, "It can be almost confirmed that the results of the votes were fake. The number of votes from 1st rank to 20th rank is a multiple (1st rank multiplied by 178, 20th multiplied by 38, all the same) of constant 7,494,44 (0,05% of the total votes). When I asked mathematicians, they said the possibility of getting the combination of these 20 numbers from 1st rank to 20th rank is nearly 0% in math. This means that the voting results had been programmed beforehand."
"We definitely have to rely on the investigation of the prosecutor side to clarify the truth of this case," he said at the end of his post.
"If it is revealed that there was corrupt solicitation between entertainment agencies and [‘Produce X 101'] production staff that led to the manipulation of votes, the law on occupational breach of trust can be applied as well," Lawyer Lee Ji-yoon of the Korea Communications Commission explained further to Money Today TheL.
The manipulation of votes could also be a violation of other clauses in the Broadcasting Act, such as article 5 (Public Responsibility of Broadcasting) and Article 6 (Impartiality and Public Interest of Broadcasting) which state that a broadcast must abide by the fundamental democratic order and be impartial.
Additionally, some fans claim that the manipulation of these votes could be considered fraud, as viewers were charged 100 won for each text vote. However, Korean law on fraud may be difficult to prove as there must be evidence of the perpetrator's intention to deceive the victims.
On July 24, lawyer Goo Hye-min of MAST Law & Consulting revealed she will be the legal representative for a fan committee formed to uncover the truth behind the vote-rigging controversy of Produce X 101, according to local news sources.
"Sometime next week, we will file a complaint to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office against the ‘Produce X 101' staff on charges such as fraud and interference with business. Several charges are being mentioned currently, and we are reviewing a wide range of potential issues we can bring up, rather than focusing on just a few charges," the lawyer said to Money Today TheL, and as translated by Soompi.
A representative from Mnet stated to local news outlet Sports Today that they "are aware [that] some fans of Produce X 101 will be filing a complaint to the persecution. We do not have an official statement."
This story is still developing.