Nippon TV apologises for fake Thai 'festival'

Nippon TV apologises for fake Thai 'festival'

TOKYO: Nippon Television Network has suspended a segment on foreign festivals in a popular variety show following revelations that some of the events — including a cauliflower festival in Thailand — were fake.

The weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported earlier this month that producers of the show “made up” some of the content that was broadcast.

The programme Sekai no Hate Made Itte Q, features a popular comedian attending unique festivals around the world. In February it broadcast what was purported to be a cauliflower harvesting contest in Thailand. The Lao festival, broadcast in May, involved crossing a small wooden bridge on a bicycle, the magazine said.

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

“I apologise for creating suspicion and worries,” Nippon TV president Yoshio Okubo told a news conference, but he denied the programme set out to deceive.

“There was no intention of fabrication or making things up,” he said. “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 show was involved in organising some of the festivals, proposing festival projects or paying prize money from the show’s filming budget.

An internal investigation will look into 110 aired segments, the president said, adding the broadcaster would consider whether to punish people involved with the programme.

The Broadcasting Ethics and Programme Improvement Organization has also demanded that Nippon TV deliver a follow-up report on its findings.

Some in the TV industry fear that the alleged fabrication may make people lose trust in broadcasters at a time when an increasing number of people, especially the young, are turning away from TV amid the rise of online media and social networks.

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

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 TV broadcast. Creators should never forget that.”

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