The government will revoke a permit for a satellite broadcasting business linked to Tohokushinsha Film Corp., communications minister Ryota Takeda said Friday, admitting that the ministry’s review of the company’s application might not have been sufficient.
Tohokushinsha applied for the permit based on false information in which the company failed to recognize its violation of the broadcasting law, Takeda told a news conference.
The government will cancel the permit after conducting a hearing with Tohokushinsha under the administrative procedure law. The permit covers one of the four channels that the firm operates.
“The matter primarily stems from mistakes Tohokushinsha made in its application, but I believe the communications ministry’s review of the application was not sufficient, either,” Takeda said. “I take this seriously,” he added, suggesting that the ministry will strengthen its screening system.
The latest move comes after the communications ministry reprimanded 11 officials last month for ethics code violations after they were treated to expensive meals by Tohokushinsha officials, including Seigo Suga, the eldest son of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Makiko Yamada recently resigned from her role as Cabinet public relations secretary after it became clear that she was also treated to expensive dinners by the company’s executives when she was vice minister for policy coordination at the ministry.
In its application for a permit for a satellite broadcasting channel in October 2016, Tohokushinsha said its foreign stake was under 20%, although the actual figure was 20.75%. The broadcasting law limits foreign ownership of satellite broadcasters to less than 20%.
The application was granted in January 2017 and Tohokushinsha transferred the channel, The Cinema 4K, which has around 700 subscribers, to a subsidiary in October that year.
At the time the transfer was approved, the ministry’s Information and Communications Bureau was headed by Yamada.
A third-party committee to be set up by the ministry will investigate whether its approval procedures were influenced by the wining and dining scandal.
Tohokushinsha has told the ministry that it had thought that it did not violate the broadcasting law as the foreign stake was 15% when holdings of major shareholders were combined, ministry officials said.
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