National / Media

NHK chief defends broadcaster amid 'Abe channel' claims

Kyodo

NHK chairman Katsuhito Momii hit out at online criticism Thursday, in which the broadcaster was called the “Abe channel” in reference to its coverage of politics, saying it promoted “political neutrality.”

“We are often called the (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe channel online, but there is no government interference in our coverage,” Momii said at a news conference at NHK. “I don’t think our coverage is biased.”

Momii also said that NHK maintained balance during its coverage of Abe’s controversial security bills. The bills divided public opinion.

“We are chanting the words ‘political neutrality’ like a Buddhist chant,” Momii said.

“I am hoping people will trust us, and will not use the words ‘Abe channel’ again.”

Momii also talked about the possibility of using the My Number system at NHK to access detailed data on subscribers, which could potentially help it recoup outstanding fees. The My Number system will come into effect for all residents in Japan in January for tax and social security purposes.

About 76 percent of subscribers paid the NHK license fee as of the end of 2014.

“In order to know the accurate number of households watching our programs, I think My Number is very useful,” Momii said. “I want to actively consider introducing the system.”

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