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NTV chief quits after phony report

Shintaro Kubo resigns over false news story

TOKYO — Nippon Television Network prexy Shintaro Kubo has stepped down to take responsibility over an NTV report in which an unreliable source falsely accused a regional government of operating a slush fund.

Kubo announced his resignation at a press conference on Monday, confessing “We broadcast a mistaken report based on false testimony.” He added that he hoped his resignation would “make our employees more aware of the importance of (this incident).” NTV chairman Noritada Hosokawa will assume Kubo’s duties until a replacement can be found.

The broadcast in question, aired Nov. 23 of last year, featured an anonymous source claiming that he paid two million yen ($20,380) into a slush fund run by the Gifu Prefecture government, using a fake contract for construction work.

The Gifu Prefectural Assembly launched an investigation based on the source’s accusations, but could find no evidence of a slush fund. On Feb. 18 the prefectural government demanded that NTV retract the statement made on the program.

The source was later revealed as a former exec for a construction firm who was arrested in January on fraud charges. His statement on the NTV program was designed to deflect police attention from his own activities, in which he faked budget numbers for a public works project and pocketed nearly $8,200.

NTV is one of Japan’s five major networks, with extensive interests in pic investment and production.

The Japanese broadcasting biz has been struggling with a spate of scandals, usually revolving around phonied programs or crooked and greedy employees.

In January 2008, pubcaster NHK’s prexy Genichi Hashimoto resigned over an insider trading scandal.

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