Toyama Tulip Television Increases Viewership at 100-Fold!
The staff saw it! Behind the Scenes of Weekly TV
Two months after the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (67 years old), the media is still focused on the issue of the former Unification Church.
When one thinks of “making a name for itself” in the pursuit of the former Unification Church, “Information Live Miyaneya” (NTV) comes to mind, but Tulip Television, a local station in Toyama Prefecture, was active in the case earlier than “Miyaneya” and immediately after the incident.
Tulip Television, a local station in Toyama Prefecture, had learned that the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, had attacked former Prime Minister Abe out of resentment toward the former Unification Church, but all stations were reluctant to name the group until the church held a press conference. Tulip TV, however, was quick to contact former believers in the prefecture and reported on the large donations behind the incident. Since then, the network has continued to report news about the former Unification Church, and its viewership, which had been almost the lowest among all 28 TBS-affiliated stations, has increased 100-fold, surpassing that of the quasi-key station On some days, it even surpassed MBS, a semi-key station, and made a name for itself throughout the country.
The reason behind the string of scoops was a personnel change that took place just prior to the show.
Hiroaki Takeishi, 55, who had pursued the Unification Church issue as a key member of the TBS news team 30 years ago, was transferred to Tulip TV one week before the attack on former Prime Minister Abe. Mr. Takeishi is the head of the News Bureau’s Commentary and Specialist Press Office and is a shrewd and knowledgeable employee who directed the movie “Life Climber.”
Tulip Television opened in 1990 as the third TV station in Toyama Prefecture. It has only 79 employees, about 50 fewer than the prefecture’s Kitanihon Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is a small TV station, but it has a reputation for high-impact reporting.” In 2004, the station went after the Toyama City Council for improper receipt of political activity expenses. Other stations followed suit, leading to the resignation of 14 city council members, including a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, who was a key figure in the city council. This is an achievement that has made national headlines. This breakthrough was probably the result of a successful combination of the enthusiasm of the young reporters and the experience of Mr. Takeishi, a veteran reporter on loan from TBS. (TBS staffer).
A local media source pointed out, “It is also significant that Mr. Takeishi is not from Toyama.”
Toyama is one of the most conservative kingdoms in Japan. Even after the report of the Toyama City Council’s illegal receipt of political activity expenses, the percentage of LDP members among voters is the highest in Japan. In the case of the Toyama City Council’s report on the illegal receipt of funds, it was Yukio Iokibe, 44, a former reporter and newscaster from Hyogo Prefecture, who was at the center of the action.
However, there are some disturbing stories.
Mr. Iokibe left the company in 2008, after the fraud case had been settled. The reporter who was mainly covering the case was also transferred to another department.
The case was made into a movie directed by Mr. Iokibe and others, and in the last scene, the reason for his resignation and transfer was hinted at. There is no doubt that there was internal pressure. I hear that the number of employees leaving Tulip TV is increasing. Right now, the news related to the former Unification Church is well received and gaining momentum, but there is a possibility that the tone will eventually be toned down, as it was during the Toyama City Council’s political activity expense abuse issue. We believe that some major tectonic shift is taking place within the station.
(A local writer) “Will they be able to come up with enough scoops to blow away the pressure?”
From the September 30 and October 7, 2022 issues of FRIDAY
Photo by Masahiro Kawayanagi： Masahiro Kawayanagi