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Home > Media Reiews > Other Review Last Updated: 14:56 03/09/2007
Other Review #63: November 24, 2004

Japan Media Review Update: November 24, 2004

JMR Staff (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California)

The following reviews are posted at:

Asahi, Yomiuri Run Afoul of Media Ownership Rules
From The Asahi Shimbun and Kyodo News: The Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun newspapers announced they hold stakes in TV and radio stations that exceed broadcast ownership caps imposed by the government. Both papers said they will sell stock in order to comply with regulations. Yomiuri Shimbun officials said the newspaper's investments in nine TV stations and three radio stations breached the limits. Asahi Shimbun said it was violating the rules by holding stakes in two TV stations in a single market, according to a separate Kyodo News report. The rules, designed to enhance the diversity of expression on Japanese airwaves, state that companies cannot hold a stake larger than 10 percent in more than one broadcaster in the same area, and they cannot own more than 20 percent of any one broadcast station. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications recently asked local private broadcasters to examine their ownership records to determine if there are other incidences of cross-ownership that violate regulations.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

Japanese Papers Assail N. Korea on Abductees
From BBC News: Japanese opinion pages expressed frustration with North Korea's limited cooperation in the investigation into its abduction of Japanese citizens. A Japanese delegation brought back a photograph and what Pyongyang says are the ashes of one missing woman, but the secretive communist state has not supplied any further information on the kidnappings, which occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. "The abductees' families will never be satisfied with this," reads a commentary in the Yomiuri Shimbun. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's influential financial paper, calls on the government to impose economic sanctions on Pyongyang in response.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

Engagement Scoop Irks Imperial Household
From The Japan Times: The Imperial Household Agency chastised the press for reporting on the recent engagement of Princess Nori before it was officially announced. A spokesman called the reports "highly inappropriate," noting that the family had chosen not to announce the engagement out of respect for the victims of the deadly earthquakes in Niigata Prefecture. The Asahi Shimbun broke the engagement news in a story Nov. 14.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

Newspapers Harness Web to Provide Quake Updates
From the November Pressnet Bulletin: The press took advantage of the Internet after an earthquake hit the Niigata region in late October. The Mainichi Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun offered special bulletin boards after the quake to provide safety information or news about survivors. In response to the disaster, some papers changed deadlines and made special deliveries to relief centers, though deliveries could not be made to Ojiya, Toka-machi and Yamakoshi. The major regional newspaper, The Niigata Nippo, used the Web to relay information about quake damage, as did the national papers. Newspaper sites were also used to provide links to relief organizations.
-- By Japan Media Review Managing Editor Shellie Branco

Magazine Slapped With Record Libel Judgment
From the November Pressnet Bulletin: In the biggest libel compensation ever ordered of a media company, magazine publisher Shinchosha Co. was made to pay 20 million yen ($194,000) in damages to a medical corporation after the publisher's appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on Oct. 1. Shinchosha's weekly Focus magazine ran a series of stories accusing the corporation's president of murdering his wife and three people in 2000 in order to obtain their life insurance benefits. Although the Kumamoto City corporation originally claimed 171.7 million yen ($1,666,000) for defamation, last year the Tokyo District Court ordered Shinchosha to pay 13.2 million yen ($128,000) for eight of the 12 articles and publication of the president's photo. The Tokyo High Court ruled on appeal that all 12 stories were defamatory and upped the damages to 19.8 million yen, which were later affirmed by the Supreme Court.
-- By Japan Media Review Managing Editor Shellie Branco

Commentary: Net Waters Down Newspapers' Authority
From the November Pressnet Bulletin: There's need for greater dialogue on the changing definition of press freedom in Japan, including the Internet's role, said a communications professor who lectured at the National Newspaper Convention in Toyama City on Oct. 15. The University of Tokyo's Junichi Hamada said the press has historically led the charge of protecting freedom of expression, but most people have now embraced the Internet as a new way to freely communicate. "People are becoming more aware of the difference between freedom of the press and freedom of expression," Hamada said. "As a result, one new idea is to strictly define freedom of the press as a right of corporate entities and let the freedom of expression in general be seen as a natural human right." He also criticized the Internet for depleting the media's authority by allowing "amateur(s) to mimic professional journalist(s)." He suggested broadening the legal definition of the "public interest" to include the interests of individuals, not only what is considered the common good. Newspapers should follow suit by reporting more instances of individuals' democratic rights, he added.
-- By Japan Media Review Managing Editor Shellie Branco

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