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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 April 4 - 10  > Revision to Broadcast Law to allow government intervention in TV programs
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2007 April 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

Revision to Broadcast Law to allow government intervention in TV programs

April 7, 2007
In the wake of a series of scandals over TV programs using fabricated information, the Abe Cabinet on April 6 approved a bill to revise the Broadcast Law that will allow government intervention in broadcast programs.

This bill will enable the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications to impose administrative punishment on broadcasters, when they are found to have released falsified information, by ordering them to submit plans to prevent such incidents from reoccurring and publish them with the minister’s opinions attached.

The bill states that such an administrative punishment could be handed out when the government recognizes “a harmful effect on the life of the people” exerted by a program in which presentation of false information could mislead viewers.

Since this bill will authorize the communications minister to judge whether or not a certain program had “a harmful effect,” it will open the way for state intervention in broadcasting.

Hirose Michisada, president of the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan, expressed his opposition to the bill, saying “This will undermine the freedom of news reporting and expression.” NHK, the public broadcaster, also expressed concerns over the bill.

The Broadcast Law, enacted in 1950, stipulates the freedom of compilation of broadcast programs, stating, “Broadcast programs shall never be interfered with or regulated by any person, except in the case where it is done through invested powers provided by law.” The crux of the law lies in guaranteeing the freedom of expression and rejecting interference by the state.

The government is attempting to undermine this foundation of the Broadcast Law by using the recent scandal of TV programs using fabricated information as an excuse.
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