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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 July 14 - 27  > Akahata TV & radio editor in chief: Should TV news continue to cover only Olympics amid COVID-19?
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2021 July 14 - 27 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Akahata TV & radio editor in chief: Should TV news continue to cover only Olympics amid COVID-19?

July 26, 2021

The Akahata TV and radio editor in chief, Fujisawa Tadaaki, wrote an article about the Tokyo Olympics in Akahata dated July 26. Following are excerpts from his article:

As anticipated, from morning till night, TV news are reporting on the Tokyo Olympic Games. All three NHK channels are covering only the Olympics. Five commercial TV networks are also broadcasting the Olympics in day-by-day rotation from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Associated with the spike of COVID-19 infections, the situation of overwhelmed Tokyo hospitals is becoming more serious. However, media reports on the ongoing pandemic situation have less coverage due to the coverage of the Olympic Games.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on July 21, without showing any evidence, stated that "the lives of people and athletes can be protected" from the pandemic. On the previous day, PM Suga in a Wall Street Journal interview when asked about Japanese public opposition to the holding of the Olympics said, "Once people start watching the Olympic events on TV, the public mindset will change."

TV stations are using almost all their news hours to cover the Olympics as PM Suga expected. Why is it that the media take such an attitude? It is because that the Japan Consortium (JC) which consists of NHK and key commercial TV networks paid a huge amount of money for the Olympic broadcasting rights. Therefore, TV news cover almost only the Olympics as they paid lots of money for this and actually refrain from critical reports on the Olympics.

During the Olympics, TV news will report briefly on the daily situation of COVID-19 followed by extensive commentary on who will win and who won medals continuously every day.

Despite imposing COVID-19 emergency restrictions on the general public, the government went ahead with holding the Olympic Games, sending a contradictory message to the public. In fact, the population in downtown areas and leisure spots is increasing. If TV networks neglect reporting on this contradiction and continue to cover only spectacular events, their role will be called into question.
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