Prior to Japan’s switch-over to full digital TV broadcasting in 2011, a number of industry insiders were already voicing concerns about how the new technology would affect their bottom line. With expanded bandwidth and additional channels, what — aside from reruns of old programs — could the networks produce to fill their round-the-clock schedule? And considering that the internet and other new media were already chipping away at their ad revenues, where would the budgets come from for quality programming?

One prediction made at the time was spot-on: That more TV programming would be devoted to eating, because such shows are relatively cheap to produce. Nor do they require the personalities who appear therein to demonstrate much subtlety or talent. First they smack their lips, take a bite and then as the camera zooms in on their faces, they raise their eyebrows, make a pleasantly surprised expression, elicit a grunt of pleasure and finally gush “Aaaaah umai!” (“Oh, yummy!”) Or, perhaps if the show is shot in a Southeast Asian country and the seasoning is overly spicy for them, they ham it up (sorry) by jumping up from the table and making a mad dash for the nearest water faucet.

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