Fuji Television Network, Inc. is currently celebrating its 65th anniversary with the “Odaiba King of Adventure 2023 SUMMER SPLASH! However, there is a “cold” atmosphere in the station every day.
The station’s top management has been saying, “The viewer ratings for ‘POKAPOKA,’ a weekday afternoon program that started in January this year, have been stagnant. The station’s upper management was bracing for the summer vacation. But the ratings continue to be in the low 1 percent range, and the best they can get is 2.0 percent.
Fuji is facing a difficult situation, but something “unusual” has happened.
At the opening ceremony of the “Odaiba Adventure King” on July 22, actor Shinobu Sakagami (56), who had opened a booth at the “Sakagamiya Cafe” that he produces, interrupted a photo session for the press to add to the excitement. He said to Daijiro Enami, 37, an analyst with whom he used to work on “Viking,” “You should come back to variety TV now. You’ve done enough reporting. I’m here to pick you up,” he told the audience.
Sakagami is well known as the “face” of the station’s daytime program “Viking” and “Viking More,” which aired from April 1, 2002, to April 1, 2010, as the MC. Since the program began a debate format, he has been popular with the viewers for his blunt and unspoken opinions.
However, on April 4, 2010, he opened an animal shelter, “Sakagamiya,” and left the program to focus on animal protection activities.
Sakagami had been going to the show after thorough meetings and preliminary research, but he seemed to have grown weary of that kind of lifestyle. However, looking at news and information programs on other commercial key stations, there are no MCs or commentators with the “venom” of Mr. Sakagami. As usual, there is a lot of shocking news on incidents and entertainment, so there must be many viewers who want to hear “poisonous” comments like Ms. Sakagami’s.” (Entertainment reporter)
On April 14, a three-hour special of the station’s variety show “Sakagami Animal Kingdom,” in which Sakagami serves as MC, was broadcast. In the special, it was revealed that Sakagami had spent 320 million yen of his own money on animal protection so far, and when he confirmed this amount in the studio, Sakagami himself showed a look of surprise.
Since the number of weekday daytime programs has been reduced, his income is sure to decrease significantly from before. However, as long as he continues to protect animals, he will have to continue to invest his personal funds.
He still has a strong relationship with Fuji, and this intrusion may have raised the flag for his return to the “face of the daytime”. Since his protection activities should be back on track, he can kill two birds with one stone by investing his personal fortune while earning money again through his work on the TV series. Fuji can also expect a recovery in viewer ratings, so it can only be beneficial for both parties. For Mr. Sakagami, there is no reason to refuse the offer.
Will he be the savior of Fuji’s struggling business?
PHOTO： Sota Shima, Daisuke Iwasaki