Ex-NHK chief Ebisawa, aides pass on adviser posts amid viewer outrage

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News photo
News photo
NHK President Genichi Hashimoto bows at the end of a news conference Friday announcing that his predecessor, Katsuji Ebisawa -
, declined to be an adviser to the broadcaster.

Hashimoto said NHK received complaints from viewers and listeners after he appointed Ebisawa as adviser following his resignation as president Tuesday.

“I regret (appointing Ebisawa to the post). Complaints from viewers and listeners have increased and (the appointment) has considerably worsened the situation,” Hashimoto told reporters.

Two other people who stepped down as NHK executives together with Ebisawa similarly declined to be appointed as advisers, he said.

Ebisawa, 70, stepped down as president after the number of viewers who refused to pay their subscription fees started rising last summer because the scandals.

When Ebisawa resigned as chief executive officer Tuesday, Executive Vice President Tetsuo Kasai, 63, and General Managing Director Akiyoshi Sekine, 62, both known to be close aides to him, stepped down to share the blame. But all three were tapped as advisers Wednesday.

Hashimoto, a former managing director and chief engineer who succeeded Ebisawa, did not say why the three refused the new posts.

“Nothing can be said other than that they declined to take the posts,” he claimed.

Ebisawa, who became president in 1997, bowed out before completing his third term, which was to last through July 2006.

His departure came as NHK faces financial difficulties compiling its budget, largely due to viewers’ refusal to pay the monthly fees, which are technically mandatory for those who own televisions. The embezzlement scandals broke in July last year.

More than 113,000 households had refused to pay as of the end of November, and the number is expected to grow to 450,000 to 500,000 by the end of March.

The fees collected from about 38.24 million subscribers account for 97 percent of the aggregate revenue of NHK, which is prohibited from profiting from advertisements.

The scandals broke in July, when NHK disclosed an embezzlement case involving Katsumi Isono, a former chief producer, whom NHK later sacked. Isono has been arrested for alleged fraud, along with another company executive. NHK later charged that Isono embezzled 48 million yen in funds for program production costs.