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Nippon TV suspends variety show 'festival' segment over staged content suspicions

The Nippon Television Tower is seen in Tokyo's Minato Ward. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

TOKYO -- Suspicions of staged content prompted broadcaster Nippon TV (NTV) to suspend a foreign festivals segment on its popular variety show "Sekai no Hate Made Itte Q" on Nov. 15.

"The situation has led to suspicion and worry, and I apologize to viewers and everyone who has appeared (in the segment)," NTV operator Nippon Television Holdings Inc. (NTVHD) President Yoshio Okubo told reporters on the same day.

In addition to suspending the foreign festival segment, Okubo said the network would investigate past editions of the segment and release the results, and would consider disciplinary action against those involved.

In the regular "matsuri" (festival) segment, one of the Itte Q presenters participated in overseas celebrations and events. However, suspicions arose that some of the festivals had been faked.

Okubo, who was speaking at a regular news conference in his capacity as current chair of the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association (JBA), insisted that the show's production team had no intention of creating staged or faked content. However, the program "had come to portray some events that wouldn't match the viewers' image of 'festivals' as festivals," he added. "We cannot get away with saying it is fine as long as the content is funny. Program production must not drift away from the ethical standards of regular society."

The suspicions of staged content were first reported in November issues of weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, over events in Laos and Thailand that Itte Q presenter and comedian Daisuke Miyagawa participated in. The Shukan Bunshun articles alleged that the festivals had been set up for the program.

NTV initially stated that the segment had been done based on a proposal by local companies coordinating on-location production, and denied the magazine reports' claims that local participants in the events had been paid. However, Okubo stated on Nov. 15 that this was "false," and revealed the Japanese broadcaster had provided courtesy payments to the event participants via the local coordinators.

(Japanese original by Naoyuki Inukai, Cultural News Department)

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