Producers of South Korean music reality show, Produce X 101, in which contestants compete to be chosen for a new idol group, have received jail sentences for vote-rigging.

Ahn Joon-young, producer of the Produce series, was given two years’ jail, while chief producer Kim Yong-beom got 20 months in prison last Friday (May 29), Yonhap News Agency reported.

They were found guilty of manipulating the results of the votes such that preferred contestants would be chosen as members of a new boy band. They were also found to have accepted bribes from talent agencies which had sent their trainees to the audition show.

The Produce series, the flagship audition show of music channel Mnet, debuted in 2016 and had given rise to popular groups such as I.O.I, Wanna One and Iz*One.

The police started to investigate Produce X 101 (2019), the fourth season of the series, in late 2019 after viewers complained about voting irregularities. Ten people, including Ahn and Kim, were hauled up for questioning.

Ahn admitted to vote-rigging during the investigation and was referred to the prosecutors.

The scandal led girl band Iz*One to postpone the release of their new album from last November to February this year. The boy band formed at the end of Produce X 101, X1, were disbanded in January.