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Top Japanese TV variety show ‘made up’ foreign festival content

  • Producers of Sekai No Hate Made Itte Q have been accused of inventing bizarre events in Thailand and Laos and passing them off as traditions
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2018, 10:48am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2018, 11:13am

Major Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television Network has been forced to suspend a segment on foreign festivals in its popular variety show after a weekly magazine reported earlier this month that the programme “made up” some of the content.

The programme Sekai No Hate Made Itte Q, in which a popular comedian joins unique festivals around the world, invented festivals in Thailand and Laos, according to Shukan Bunshun.

The Thai “festival” aired in February last year involved a competition to harvest cauliflowers. The Lao programme, broadcast in May, involved crossing a small wooden bridge on a bike.

The variety show, aired on Sundays, has around a 20 per cent viewer rating in the Kanto region centring on Tokyo, making it Nippon TV’s most popular programme.

“I apologise for creating suspicion and worries,” Nippon TV President Yoshio Okubo told a press conference on Thursday, but he denied the programme set out to deceive. “There was no intention of fabrication or making things up. The production team stretched the concept of the festival too much and featured some events as festivals, even though they were difficult for viewers to imagine as festivals.”

Okubo said a company in charge of coordinating overseas shooting for the variety show was involved in organising some of the festivals, proposing festival projects or paying prize money from the shooting budget.

An internal probe will investigate about 110 aired tapes, the president said, adding the broadcaster will consider whether to punish people involved in the programme.

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Television watchdog the Broadcasting Ethics and Programme Improvement Organisation has also demanded Nippon TV report on the issue.

Some in the television industry fear the alleged fabrication may make people lose trust in broadcasters at a time when an increasing number of people, particularly youngsters, are said to be turning away from television amid the rise of the internet and social networking services.

“We’re in an era when even a lie regarded as acceptable in the (television) industry leads to ruining viewers’ trust in us,” said a senior official of a major broadcaster. “We must be aware of their strict attitude.”

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Takahiko Kageyama, a professor of media theory at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, said: “Producers tend to think news reports and variety shows are different but for the viewers, they are both the same television broadcast. Creators should never forget that.”