Friday, November 09, 2012

Just For The Effect

Even by the low standards of this blessed land's news media, the last night's NHK News Watch 9 (Nyusu uocchi nain) broadcast was an abomination.

The opening was a long feature on the start of the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress. After a segment on the leadership transition came a segment on the yawning divide between the rich and the poor, with a special focus on wealthy CCP cadres. The segment had three interviews, one with the owner-manager of an equestrian center, where the membership and registration fees are understandably many times times the annual salary of an urban worker, a South China businessman looking for an apartment in Hong Kong and a Hong Kong real estate agent who claimed that 30% of his customers are CCP cadres.

In the first interview, the owner-manager revealed that he had sent his daughter to study in the United States because he wanted her to know what it is like to live in a free country. In the second interview, the South China businessman said he was looking for a way to get himself and his family and money out of China because of the incredible corruption. He also said that hoped he could bring his two daughters aged 7 and 9 (?) to Hong Kong next year.

As I watched this segment, I thought to myself, "This is insane. I know that Japanese news media burn sources and interviewees -- but this is endangering the persons being interviewed and their families."

At the end of the segment, the extremely likable Okoshi Kensuke (Link - J) informed viewers that in the course of NHK's airing of the segment, censors in China had cut off the live feed.

This morning, competing major news organizations had features on the cutoff of the NHK broadcast. TBS broadcast images of a television set showing the NHK broadcast suddenly going black (Video - J). If the bug in the corner of the TBS segment is to be believed, the video of the cutoff of the NHK broadcast was produced by TBS for its late night news broadcast News 23 -- meaning that NHK had alerted its competitors in advance of its intent to air a segment on the extreme wealth of CCP cadres and the discontents of even the well-off members of society, with one goal being the testing of the censor's patience.

It is inconceivable that wealthy Chinese citizens would allow themselves to be interviewed on camera criticizing China's lack of freedom and its corruption, especially for a program to be broadcast by Japan's national news network. This would indicate that deception, either of the persons being interviewed or NHK, had featured prominently in the production of the segment. In the most hopeful case, the persons in the interviews were actors hired by video freelancers, who then provided the faked interviews to NHK. This scenario would, however, be contrary to NHK's modus operandi, which is to do everything, even technical development, in house.

Whatever the veracity of the contents of the program segment, the airing of the segment in the hopes that the censors would indeed cut off the feed, creating a new story to report, represents a breach of the public trust.

If the program did indeed feature real interviews with real people, I feel sorry for the equestrian center owner-manager. The feed was cut during the second interview, with the South China businesman in Hong Kong. The feed was restored during a segment on the Senkaku Islands problem. (Link - J)

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