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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 February 22 - 28  > Broadcasting watchdog calls for more positive media reporting on elections
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2017 February 22 - 28 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Broadcasting watchdog calls for more positive media reporting on elections

February 27, 2017
A third party organization dealing with the ethics of broadcast journalism has criticized recent election reporting for failing to cover points at issue properly.

The Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization (BPO) is an independent organ set up by commercial stations and the public broadcaster, NHK. In February, BPO issued an unusual statement calling for broadcasting programs to make clear the differences in the stances of candidates and political parties during election campaigns.

During the campaign period of the 2016 Upper House election, TV networks deliberately refrained from reporting on the election. Even when they reported, they received complaints from viewers, many of whom said, “The point at dispute is unclear”.

Behind this is the fact that the governing parties and the Abe government have put pressure on the media. Shortly before the 2014 general election, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party sent to major TV networks a letter of demand regarding the frequency of statements made by political party representatives and even the selection of guest commentators in debate programs. In 2016, Communications Minister Takaichi Sanae hinted at the suspension of broadcasting licenses if broadcasters violate Article 4 of the Broadcast Act which stipulates “political equity”.

The BPO statement points out that the article’s intent is to outline “ethical standards to which broadcasters should voluntarily conform” and that it cannot be used as a pretext for state authorities to interfere in program content. Referring to the Public Offices Election Law guaranteeing the freedom to report and comment, the recommendation highlights the need to “create programs which will arouse public interest in elections and air them without being intimidated”.

Referring to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, BPO official Kawabata Kazuharu warned that Japan’s democracy will be brought to a crisis if the media neglect to check up on what politicians say and do.

Past related article:
> NHK supports Abe gov’t by not reporting on election issues [July 17, 2017]
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