NHK’s News Department and Entertainment Department at Odds Over “Kohaku”! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

NHK’s News Department and Entertainment Department at Odds Over “Kohaku”! 

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Noriyuki Higashiyama (57) appeared at a press conference on October 2. Since two days after the press conference, the celebrity has been making a round of greetings to companies where he has appeared in commercials.

NHK, which had initially remained silent in the wake of the sex-abuse issue of Johnny Kitagawa, who passed away in 2019, scooped up the existence of the NG list used during the second press conference of the former Johnny & Associates (now “SMILE-UP.”) held on October 2. In addition, the report also gave the impression of a break with Johnny’s by reporting the testimony of a man who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the late Johnny Kitagawa within NHK’s bureau.


“The report of the sexual assault at the NHK station has also caused the station to cancel the “The Boys” program, in which Johnny’s Jr had appeared for many years. News stations are looking for more scoops, and it seems as if NHK has given up on Johnny’s.”

NHK has made it clear that it will not use any of Johnny’s talent unless there is progress in providing relief for the victims. However, within NHK, there is a direct conflict between the News Program Center of the News Bureau and the Entertainment Program Department of the Second Production Center of the Production Bureau over the stance on Johnny’s. 

“There is a conflict with variety and drama productions,” said a source from a company affiliated with NHK.

“While the commercial broadcasters are making irresolute decisions in light of the variety of programs and dramas, NHK’s news bureau is taking the initiative in the development of a series of programs that are not in line with the needs of the Japanese entertainment industry. NHK’s news bureau has taken the lead in reporting on the sexual assault issue, and has even interfered in the casting process. The Entertainment Program Department is in a position not to speak out strongly in the face of the sexual assault issue, but now that preparations for the year-end program are imminent, it seems that this cannot be said anymore.”


The Entertainment Programming Department of the Production Bureau’s No. 2 Production Center and the News Department’s News Programming Center are often at odds with each other, and the “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” the annual New Year’s Eve program, has been a particular source of contention.

Matsumoto Jun (40) will play the lead role in NHK’s Taiga “What Will You Do, Ieyasu?”. The “Kohaku Uta Gassen” usually features the lead actor from the Taiga drama, but it’s uncertain what will happen this year.

“Until now, the Entertainment Program Department has been spending over 300 million yen for the production, casting gorgeous contestants and judges, and creating a lot of buzz with projects linked to the historical drama “Taiga Drama” and “Asadora”. However, the News Program Center watched these developments in the Entertainment Program Department with a bitter feeling. The budget and slots for “Kohaku” were being cut. In addition, there was the issue of the gender controversy, in which men and women were divided into separate groups and competed to win. The news bureaus often proposed shortening the time of the Kohaku program, cutting the budget, and even terminating the program on the grounds that it had fulfilled its role for the time period.”

The Entertainment Program Department of the Production Bureau’s No. 2 Production Center is having the most trouble selecting the performers for this year’s 74th Kohaku Uta Gassen.

“The department has not yet given up on the idea of obtaining a slot for Johnny’s talent,” said Mr. Kurokawa. 

“The Entertainment Program Department, which produces the Kohaku program, is currently negotiating with the upper management and Johnny’s office for at least one or two slots” (source from an entertainment agency) 

Not only within NHK, but the entire TV industry is whispering even before the broadcast that this year’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” will have the lowest viewer rating in the history of the program.

“I can understand their desperation. Looking at last year’s time schedule, “SixTONES” and “Naniwa Danshi” were scheduled at 7:00 p.m., and “SnowMan” at 8:00 p.m. and “King & Prince” and “Kanjani Eight” at 10:00 p.m. The long-running broadcasts were stable, and the program was able to capture the core audience (men and women aged 13-49). In long-running broadcast slots, it is possible to intermittently boost viewer ratings by including such stable talents. This time, once Johnny’s slot is reduced to 0, the average viewer rating is expected to drop considerably.”

NHK’s morning drama “Boogie Woogie” began airing on October 2, and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (49) of “SMap” made his first appearance in a morning drama. With Johnny’s unable to appear, will “SMap” make its first appearance in the Kohaku Uta Gassen?The viewer rating for the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” is said to border on 30%. However, even the ratings for last year’s Kohaku Uta Gassen, in which the six Johnny’s groups participated, averaged 31.2% household viewership for the first part (Kanto region) and 35.3% for the second part. If the program falls below the 30% household viewer rating, which is said to be the borderline, it is inevitable that there will be discussions of discontinuing the program even within the station. If this were to happen, there is a possibility that the overall budget for the entertainment program group would be cut.


This year’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” will determine the distance between NHK and Johnny’s in the future. At the same time, it is likely to be a battle for the prestige of NHK’s variety squad.


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  • Photo Kazuhiko Nakamura (press conference) Ichiro Takatsuka Keitaro Nakagawa

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