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  • We will not interrupt this program

    Posted on September 17th, 2009 keving 12 comments


    TV Tokyo, the smallest of the Kanto region’s six main broadcast networks (channel 12 on the dial), is best known overseas for broadcasting Pokémon and lots of other anime. Within Japan, though, it’s more infamous for never, ever, ever, ever pre-empting regular programming for any reason, from world events to earthquakes to alien invasions, even if every other channel on the dial has switched to emergency news broadcasts. (They do pre-empt sometimes, of course, but you could count the number of times over the past 30 years on your fingers.)

    Classic examples taken from this site:

    Situation What TV Tokyo Broadcast
    JAL plane crash (1985) An RC-car race championship
    1st Gulf War breaks out (1991) Moomin anime, video-game news show
    Hanshin earthquake (1995) Moomin anime repeat, video-game news show, Blue Seed, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack (1995) Moomin anime repeat
    Second plane hits the WTC (2001) Quiz show starring pre-op transvestites
    9/12/01 Oha Suta, s-CRY-ed
    2004 presidential election Anime
    Mt. Asama erupts (2008) A travel program about Mt. Asama (3 days later)
    North Korea launches missile into Japan Sea Anime
    Plane explodes in Okinawa (2007) Pokémon

    The most recent example of TV Tokyo’s lazy-bones approach to news coverage came yesterday. The current big pop-culture news story in Japan is Noriko Sakai, a well-known actress/singer who’s involved in a drug scandal. She was released from custody yesterday and held a press conference held by all of Tokyo’s TV stations…except TV Tokyo, which was too busy broadcasting a kids’ variety show tackling the topic of “excuses to give if you fart during class” (above).

    This trend — which started because TV Tokyo (originally an educational station) has a much smaller news staff than the other networks and continues because broadcasting content while all the other stations show wall-to-wall disaster coverage often leads to better ratings — is well-known enough that Sgt. Frog parodied its own broadcast network about it in a 2008 episode.

    The common joke is that if TV Tokyo breaks into programming, then Armageddon has to be coming — which, I suppose, would make sense, because if we’re all going to die anyway, you might as well make sure you spend your quarterly budget as quickly as possible.


    12 responses to “We will not interrupt this program” RSS icon

    • I learned about this while I was in Japan and it’s totally lulz.

      Is there a list anywhere of the times TV Tokyo /has/ broken into programming? I am mightily curious.

    • Japan Wikipedia is up on that, listing the times when they pre-empted programming in the typical Japan Wikipedia exhaustive fashion.

      For the most part TVT just prefers to wait until regularly-scheduled news shows when big events happen. Usually even when it did pre-empt programming, it would often be scheduled during time periods when they would normally be showing reruns of something else anyway.

    • only in japan would anyone consider pre-empting programming because a *celebrity did drugs.*

    • I agree with Brandon. A former pop idol being busted for amphetamines (amphetamines!) is a non-issue for most(?) non-Japanese in Japan. I’d pull an Elvis on my TV if they interrupted my favourite show with Norippi coverage.

    • “Accompanied by her attorney, she apologized to the public during a press conference. “My weakness caused me to give in to illegal drugs and caused grief to many people. I pledge to repent and atone for this crime for the rest of my life,” she said. Sakai will be checked into a hospital to overcome her drug habit, and asked for restraint from the media during her recovery.”

      Totally unimagineable in the US or Europe, a celebrity APOLOGIZING TO THE PUBLIC for doing drugs!! And she has to stop doing media appearances until she has “overcome her drug habit”, too!

      Good to hear that Japan still plays in another league than your usual first world countries.

    • Don’t miss the list of consequences either. I’m almost sorry for her:

      “The drug scandal can potentially cost Sakai billions of yen in canceled contracts and other endeavors she was involved in prior.[21] On August 6, 2009, car manufacturer Toyota reportedly stopped showing a commercial, featuring Sakai, on its web site.[22] Sakai’s clothing line “PP rikorino”, consisting of over 150 items were pulled from stores throughout Japan.[21]

      During the first week of the scandal, Apple Inc’s iTunes Store rated Sakai’s 1995 song Aoi Usagi the number one downloaded song. The rating is based on an eleven-day period.[23] Other Sakai songs among the top 100 downloads include Kagami no Doresu (17th) and Sekaiju no Dare Yori Kitto (18th). On August 9, 2009, Victor Entertainment, the distributor of Sakai’s works, withdrew Sakai’s CDs from stores, and suspended downloads of her songs.[24] On-line stores such as Amazon Japan still sell Sakai’s CDs and DVDs, despite increasing the selling prices as a result of Victor’s move.

      Immediately after the indictment announcement, Sun Music, the talent agency who has represented Sakai since 1986, suspended the contract. Sun Music president Masahisa Aizawa said, “We apologize from the bottom of our hearts for the alleged misdeeds of Ms. Sakai.”[25] Sun Music removed Sakai’s official web site from its web server.”

    • She sang the Gunbuster Opening Theme “Active Heart”. ;_;

      Good memories. Still like it a lot. ;_;

      Now I really am a bit sorry for her.
      I hope her husband talked her into it and the public forgives her a bit for being led astray.

    • Good site and post, I recently started watch tv episodes here and just stream them straight to my TV in the living room.

    • Did they interrupt programming for the most recent earthquakes, do you think? It’s the biggest news in Japan in 15 years.

    • Yes, they did break for the earthquake. Set back the series finale for Keroro by a bit.

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