Japanese TV stations are slipshod in checking shows for factual accuracy, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has concluded in a report, released Tuesday, on its investigation into TV program production practices.
The investigation was prompted by revelations that producers at Kansai Telecasting Corp. (KTV) were involved in falsifying diet info used in its program “Encyclopedia of Living 2.”
In the upshot of the widely reported scandal, three KTV producers were fired, seven other execs were punished, and the station cancelled the show, one of its most popular. Also the prexy of the production company subcontracted to make the show resigned.
On Feb. 7 and 8, Ministry investigators conducted hearings in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya with reps from NHK and 15 commercial stations, querying them about their supervision of the indie production companies that make the majority of infotainment variety shows in Japan.
According to their report, 219 of the 317 shows that provide viewers with info on health and other lifestyle topics are made by subcontracted production companies, not the stations themselves. Investigators learned that producers at only six stations check the reporting of production companies for factual accuracy. Also, only three stations required production companies to ask for station approval before subcontracting work out. Finally, only six stations had a policy of not using companies again that had problems with the info in their shows.
In its report, the Ministry urged stations to supervise production companies directly, to make sure the health and other claims they make on their shows are backed by scientific evidence. The Ministry also asked the NAB (National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan) to come up with ways to avoid repetitions of the KTV scandal, such as standardizing contracts between stations and production companies.