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2014 March 5 - 11 [POLITICS]

Ex-NHK director calls for public voting system for NHK Board of Governors

March 7, 2014
Former NHK director Tsuda Masao criticized the string of NHK executives’ controversial remarks as a serious problem undermining the foundation of democracy in a program aired on a Kyoto community FM radio station on March 3.

The 70-year-old former TV director, who teaches at Ritsumeikan University, pointed out that the seriousness of the problem is not just a question of the characters of the top officials who made the remarks, but the system itself which enables the state authority to directly interfere in the public broadcaster.

Tsuda entered NHK in 1966 and engaged in producing news and documentary programs for 30 years. Based on this experience, he stated that not a few NHK officials have always been eager to reflect the perspective of the government in power.

NHK’s finance is covered by fees from TV owners while NHK needs a Diet approval for its budget. In February and March when the annual NHK budget is under Diet discussion, its political reporters devote themselves to lobbying politicians in power for the passage of a generous budget draft. The political editor’s section, which has an influential voice within NHK, once tried to intervene in Tsuda’s TV program plan by saying, “Some politicians would make a complaint about the program,” and “You should refrain from airing this right now,” Tsuda recalled.

Under the current system, the prime minister chooses members of the NHK Board of Governors which appoints the president. Tsuda criticized this as a system allowing the government to influence the broadcaster’s programs through personnel appointments.

Tsuda proposed an open candidacy and a public voting system for selecting NHK governors. A public broadcaster in San Francisco City employs the system in which a citizen, who wins recommendation from 85 citizens, can run for a seat on the management board, he said.

“The current selection system is based on closed-door negotiations between the communications ministry and the ruling party. Aiming for a public election system, different rules should be established,” he stressed.

Past related articles
> NHK governor praised rightist’s 1993 suicide [February 6, 2014]
> NHK governor: Nanjing massacre never happened [February 5, 2014]
> NHK chair justifies Japan’s wartime sex slavery system [January 26, 2014]
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