In the Dec. 28 Media Mix article, “Critics switched off over digital-TV plans,” media critic Yukichi Amano made a very good point — namely, that switching to digital TV will be a waste of time if there is nothing new on offer in terms of programming. I would like to add that I think Japanese TV is the worst in the world. Nothing has really changed in the entertainment industry here since the 1970s.

Public broadcaster NHK does not seem to understand that in order to justify charging every viewer a subscription fee, it must provide something that will appeal to every viewer. Its range of documentaries, cultural and educational programs, and dramas is extremely limited, and the programs themselves excruciatingly tedious.

On the commercial channels, a clique of nonentities get paid huge amounts to overact in bad melodramas and sit on the guest panels of mind-numbing variety shows. On top of their salaries, they get to compete for big prizes on game shows, whereas in other countries, ordinary people are the contestants.

Popular TV shows rehash formats that were outdated 10 years ago. For instance, has anyone considered just how cheap all those tokusatsu (special effects) shows are? 1960s episodes of British and U.S. sci-fi shows look good by comparison.

It says much that one of the biggest acts in the Japanese entertainment industry consists of a bunch of talentless pretty boys who cannot act, sing or play an instrument. It is a dreadful state of affairs, doubtless not improved by the influence of talent agencies who probably find it easier to make money when they don’t have to find people with any talent.

I suppose other countries produce TV that is just as bad, but with a culture as ancient, unique and rich as Japan’s, TV producers here have no excuses. If they had any decency or sense of shame, they would all resign.

simon foston

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