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TBS to suspend popular variety show after staged content emerges

The TBS Broadcasting Center is seen in Tokyo's Akasaka district. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. (TBS) announced on Sept. 11 that there was staged content in one of its popular variety shows aired last month and offered an apology over the matter, adding that the program will be suspended until investigations over the case are concluded.

In the program titled "Crazy Journey" featuring comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto and other celebrities, overseas contacts put rare creatures in place in advance for an academic to capture them for a segment of the show, according to TBS.

"We extend our deepest apologies to viewers, the cast in the program and others concerned," the broadcaster said. The TV station will launch a probe into whether there were any other similar irregularities.

The variety show in question was aired as a special program on the evening of Aug. 14 and again as a regular program later that night. In the programs, an academic dubbed a "reptile hunter" looked for exotic creatures in Mexico. However, of the six varieties of living things that appeared in the show, four including a Mexico salamander had been caught and released beforehand by locals who cooperated with the program.

The segment of the show had been aired 10 times before Aug. 14. On seven of the 10 occasions, a total of 11 types of creatures had been prearranged, the broadcaster said. The academic was not informed of the fact that the animals had already been put in place.

The trickery came to light after parties outside the broadcaster pointed them out.

TBS's announcement came less than a week after it unveiled on Sept. 5 that there was a setup in another variety show. In the program titled "Kieta Tensai" (Geniuses who disappeared), footage was modified to make balls thrown by baseball pitchers look faster than the actual speed by fast-forwarding the images, among other gimmicks.

(Japanese original by Hisanori Yashiro, Cultural News Department)

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