The president of Nippon Television Network Corp. resigned Monday to take responsibility for a news report that falsely accused the Gifu Prefectural Government of concealing a slush fund.
The report “was erroneous and it was due to my lack of supervision,” NTV President Shintaro Kubo, 64, told a news conference. “I would like to make every (NTV) employee aware of the seriousness of the incident.”
Chairman Noritada Hosokawa, 68, will now also serve as president, the company said.
NTV also announced it removed Hisao Adachi as head of the news bureau and suspended him for three days.
The network’s board members approved the personnel changes later in the day.
On Nov. 23, the popular NTV news program “Shinso Hodo Bankisha” aired a report in which a 58-year-old former construction company worker alleged that he helped the Gifu government create a slush fund by falsely claiming to have done construction work for the prefecture.
The man was arrested March 9 for allegedly obstructing the operation of government when his testimony turned out to be false.
“I would like to apologize sincerely to Gifu Prefectural Government employees and viewers,” Kubo said, explaining that he “simply believed” what the man said.
“There were problems not only in confirming the facts but also in our reporting methods in general.”
NTV will conduct an internal investigation before deciding whether to cancel the program, he said, adding that the company will release the results of the investigation.
Although the man in the news story reportedly told police he had lied to get gratuity money from the television company, none was paid nor was the story made up for the news program, according to Kubo.
At its first news conference Monday, NTV did not allow any cameras, either still or video, and permitted only one journalist from each media outlet.
A second news conference was called after reporters and NTV employees argued over these restrictions.
The prefecture spent two months probing the story’s allegation, questioning an estimated 380 government workers and checking the records of construction work it had ordered.
In the end, the government concluded there was no basis for the allegation.
The Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization, an association of broadcasters, has decided to look into the case.
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