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I agree with Ivor Paul’s March 6 letter, “TV listings offer little help.” Japanese television is absolute garbage, unworthy of viewing by anyone. It is heavily biased with rightwing, conservative viewpoints pushed relentlessly on the viewing public. An example is the debate on whaling.

As an Australian and a compassionate vegan, I am disgusted with Japanese whaling, but perhaps more offensive is the media’s one-sided portrayal of the issue. The Australian and anti-whaling viewpoints are not even discussed or shown consideration. Activists are labeled “eco-terrorists.” This results in a lack of divergent opinion in the population.

As Paul pointed out, TV in Japan focuses on “talent” and “variety” programs to the point where it seems it may have a dumbing-down effect on the public. When there is news, it is too often Japan-centric. This happens in all countries, especially with sporting events, since coverage of one’s own country can be equated with nationalism at the expense of unbiased coverage. But when the news is serious, such as the recent New Zealand earthquakes, it is disgusting how some media — not only TV — focus on the search for Japanese victims, when many people — not only Japanese — may have died. Such coverage implies that people other than the Japanese don’t matter.

It was laughable when the NHK man came to my house asking for money for merely owning a TV. I told him I don’t watch TV because it is too rightwing — and chock-full of the garbage mentioned. When I came to this country, I thought I could learn Japanese from watching TV. That may be true, but the programming is so bad that I can’t stomach it. If NHK wants me to pay, I suggest that it cover real news like international political and economic topics, not cheap celebrity garbage.

I get most of my news from independent Internet media. If traditional news media outlets want to remain relevant — and in business — I suggest that they also start to cover some real news, and not only in Japan. I welcome feedback.

vernon gleeson

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