Tepco resumes TV ads in Niigata to address mistrust


Tokyo Electric Power Co. is again airing TV commercials in Niigata Prefecture, where its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant is located. It halted such ads nationwide in the aftermath of the Fukushima No. 1 disaster, but resumed them in this one prefecture in June.

As Tepco needs local consent to restart reactors —units No. 6 and No. 7 are currently undergoing safety screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority — it is seen as trying to win support through TV spots.

The first of the Tepco commercials, aired in Niigata from June through the end of October, was about the opening of a Tepco office in Niigata.

The second series comprised three commercials that explained safety measures at the plant, including the construction of new dikes to guard against tsunami and the deployment of a power source vehicle on a nearby hill.

The third set showed emergency drills conducted at the plant. It pledged every effort by staff in the event of an emergency.

Tepco says local broadcasters air the 30-second spots 60 times per month. The commercials are not aired outside Niigata Prefecture.

The four local broadcasters responded in various ways to Tepco’s request to air the commercials, especially the second series.

Niigata Television Network 21 Inc., affiliated with TV Asahi Corp., decided not to air the second set of commercials. An official said it reflected the fact that the safety screenings of the two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are still ongoing and local residents remain divided over whether the reactors should be brought back online.

Broadcasting System of Niigata Inc. and Television Niigata Network Co., which are related to Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. and Nippon Television Network Corp., respectively, asked Tepco to make revisions to the commercials, such as adding an apology for the nuclear disaster.

Niigata Sogo Television Co., affiliated with Fuji Television Network Inc., decided to air the commercials without revisions.

Since the Fukushima crisis, Tepco’s advertising activities have been limited to apologies, requests for people to use less electricity and announcements about compensation payments.

In addition to the TV commercials in Niigata, Tepco has resumed ads on the radio and in newspapers and magazines in the prefecture.

“We asked the broadcasters to air the commercials, which we see as indispensable for winning the understanding of everyone across Niigata about our safety measures and drills at the plant,” Koichi Kimura, chief of Tepco’s Niigata office, said.

The office did not disclose the costs for airing the commercials.

It is considering preparing a fourth series of commercials.

In November, when asked to comment on problems at the plant such as revelation that cables had been installed wrongly, Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said: “I wonder if now is the time for Tepco to be airing commercials to publicize their hard work.”

He added that “Tepco should be focusing on its real work” rather than stepping up publicity activities.