National / Media

Broadcasting watchdog finds TBS violated scandal-hit composer Samuragochi's rights

Kyodo

A Tokyo Broadcasting System Television variety show committed a human rights violation when it aired a segment on allegations surrounding composer Mamoru Samuragochi in March 2014, an independent panel promoting ethical broadcasting has ruled.

In a rare harsh decision against a TV network, the Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization (BPO) urged TBS to broadcast its decision and prevent similar incidents in the future.

The decision, announced Tuesday, is the toughest penalty the industry watchdog can take against a network. It is the first time in nine years the BPO said a TV program violated human rights.

The segment in question was aired during the program, “Akko ni Omakase,” featuring Akiko Wada, a singer and talk show host known for not mincing words.

Introducing a news conference given by Samuragochi, who apologized for having had another composer ghostwrite his music, the program narrator said “normal conversations took place (between him and the reporters).”

Such narration gave the impression to viewers that he was faking deafness, “without sufficient grounds to assume so,” and damaged his reputation, the BPO said.

“It is a sensitive theme that concerns the human rights of the hearing impaired, and should have been given sufficient consideration from the viewpoint of broadcasting ethics,” the BPO said.

The BPO concluded another variety show aired on the Fuji TV network that also featured the controversy surrounding Samuragochi, which the composer claimed humiliated him, did not violate ethical standards.

TBS released a statement following the BPO decision, saying it will “take the recommendation sincerely.”

“We tried to present the questions raised by (Samuragochi’s) news conference, including views from experts. But we will examine the panel’s decision in detail and will use it in future programming,” TBS said.