Unfazed by Johnny’s Matsumoto Incident Former Tv Tokyo Producer Unveils Resilient Strategy | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Unfazed by Johnny’s Matsumoto Incident Former Tv Tokyo Producer Unveils Resilient Strategy

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Mr. Matsumoto has never appeared on any TV Tokyo program.

TV Tokyo is said to have suffered little damage in the wake of the Hitoshi Matsumoto sexual assault scandal, thanks to its unique lineup. Even during the Johnny’s s sexual assault scandal, there were no major changes in programming thanks to the lack of prime-time programs by former Johnny’s Office talent.

Former TV Tokyo producer and current professor in the Faculty of Arts and Culture at J. F. Oberlin University, Mr. Toshihiko Tabuchi, will explain the reason behind TV Tokyo’s unique approach, describing it as a certain type of strength.

How is it possible for TV TOKYO to pursue such a unique path? (PHOTO: AFRO)

Hitoshi Matsumoto’s first on-screen appearance in a long time

The allegations of sexual misconduct involving Matsumoto Hitoshi have been making headlines daily, but it feels like we’ve exhausted the topic. Amidst this, footage from Matsumoto’s past aired on the February 28th broadcast of “Wednesday Downtown,” airing on TBS at 10 p.m., causing a stir with comments like “Matsumoto, back in action!”.

As you know, Matsumoto is technically on “indefinite hiatus,” so it’s not exactly a “comeback,” but seeing him on screen, his signature commentary is as sharp as ever, and viewers on social media are buzzing with comments like “It’s been a while” and “It’s just not the same without Matsumoto.” According to an article on a website, this VTR appearance was orchestrated by the producers. I haven’t personally confirmed this with him, so the veracity remains uncertain, but if true, it suggests that the show or the network is in quite a predicament.

Certainly, since it’s footage from the past that hasn’t been used before, it can be aired with permission from the agency. However, given the amount of criticism surrounding the situation, it’s surprising that they acknowledged it with a statement like, “In light of ongoing investigations, we’re refraining from specific legal actions and referring to it as ‘Matsumoto’s private matter.'” Normally, the agency wouldn’t have agreed to it so easily.

But it happened nonetheless, and that’s why I mentioned, “The show or the network must be in quite a predicament.” To secure ratings and appease sponsors, footage of Matsumoto was necessary. It’s likely there was either a close relationship with Yoshimoto Kogyo or a significant negotiation battle ensued.

“Wednesday Downtown” boasts immense popularity in the variety show genre. This is evidenced by TVer’s playback ranking. According to TVer’s “October-December 2023 Overall Program Playback Ranking,” out of the top 10, nine were dramas. The only program from another genre to rank was “Wednesday Downtown,” coming in at 7th place.

The reason why the stations responded quickly to the Hitoshi Matsumoto sexual assault allegations

Unlike the Johnny’s sexual harassment issue, the television’s response to the recent sexual harassment allegations against Matsumoto Hitoshi was relatively swift. This was not because television had learned from past mistakes, but because of the prompt response from sponsors.

When the attack began on December 26 last year in “Bunshun Online,” immediate changes were made on the subsequent broadcast of “Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Stories to Drink With” 2-hour special in Fukuoka, such as the disappearance of sponsor logos and replacement of commercials with AC Japan’s.

Television stations rely heavily on sponsors and cannot afford to go against them. Sponsors are crucial customers who purchase commercial slots. During the Johnny’s sexual harassment issue, television was criticized for being too deferential to CM sponsors, earning it the moniker “silent television.” However, this time, major sponsors responded promptly, allowing television networks to make significant adjustments.



Only one of the Tokyo commercial broadcasters said, “It doesn’t affect us!”

At that time, the only one of the commercial TV stations in Tokyo that assured that “It will not affect us!” TV Tokyo was the only one of the commercial TV stations in Tokyo that assured the public that they would not be affected. TV Tokyo does not have any regular programs featuring Hitoshi Matsumoto. In fact, Matsumoto has never appeared on any TV Tokyo program.

On January 8th, when the sudden announcement of “indefinite hiatus” was made, it caused quite a stir among the networks hosting seven regular programs including “Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!” and “Downtown DX” (both on NTV), “Crazy Journey” and “Wednesday Downtown” (both on TBS), “Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Drinking Stories” and “Matsumoto to Nakai” (both on Fuji TV), and “Detective! Night Scoop” (on Asahi Broadcasting). However, when I mentioned this to a certain producer at a certain TV Tokyo, they just laughed and said, “It doesn’t concern us, so I feel relieved instead.”

Even if Kanjani Eight changes its name to “SUPER EIGHT,” it plans not to change the “∞” crown.

Thinking back, the same thing happened during Johnny’s sex-abuse issue. Compared to other stations, the number of appearances by talents from the former Johnny’s office on TV TOKYO is extremely small. The “Boys’ Gohan” program with Taichi Kokubun as MC and “HiHi Jets no Hi shimasenai!” are not prime-time programs.

Golden time slots include “Demachi! Adomachikku Tengoku” with MC Koyama Keiichiro and “Ariehen∞ Sekai” with Kanjani Eight as MCs. However, in “Ariehen∞ Sekai,” it’s said that even if Kanjani Eight changes their name to “SUPER EIGHT,” they don’t plan to change the “∞” symbol as part of their name. Tele-Tokyo remains unwavering.


TV TOKYO going its own way

Why is TV TOKYO able to go its own way?

It is because it is light. Behind the word light are three few circumstances.

  • Less revenue.
  • Small viewership (low)
  • Small number of people

These are all negative factors. However, TV Tokyo had a reversal idea. They had the ability to turn these disadvantages into advantages. I will now explain this.

TV Tokyo opened in 1964, 11 years after NHK and NTV, making it the latecomer among the five Tokyo key stations. As a result, there are only six network stations, including its own station. Of course, this is the fewest. Since TV TOKYO is not available in Tohoku, Hokuriku, Niigata, and most of Shikoku and Kyushu, the area is said to be TV TOKYO’s barren zone.


Furthermore, the latest “Household Viewer Ratings for Prime Time (7:00 pm to 11:00 pm) for the March 2024 period (April 2023 to March 2024)” is a stark contrast to the top-rated TV Asahi’s 8.7%, with Tele-Tokyo lagging significantly at 4.5%. In terms of employee numbers, as of March 31, 2023, Tele-Tokyo had 775 employees, which is only 56% of the highest number at Nippon Television, which had 1380 employees during the same period. Even comparing total sales, Tele-Tokyo’s sales for the March 2023 period amounted to ¥113.466 billion, which is less than a third of Nippon Television’s total.

Thus, TV Tokyo is both the smallest and weakest in terms of its actual presence and business scale.

“Good Trip, Dreamy Mood” (from TV Tokyo’s official website) was born from the spirit of “Sets cost money – Outdoor shoots are free!”

“Don’t use money, use your head! If you don’t have the brains, use your legs!”

Having little revenue essentially means lack of money in plain terms. Naturally, this also means limited funds for production on the ground. During my days as an assistant director (AD), I often heard from senior directors, “Don’t spend money, use your brains! If you don’t have brains, use your legs!” While nowadays, this would be considered outright harassment and unacceptable, back then, creators who heard this devised the following two methods.

  • (1) Sets cost money => Outside location shooting is free!
  • (2) Talent costs money => Amateurs are cheaper!

Travel programs such as “Ii Tabi Yume Mood” were born from the idea of (1).

This approach is still in TV TOKYO’s DNA today. At one time, it was popular for variety shows to use a “hinadan” (a “daisy-chain”) approach, in which many celebrities were lined up in a row to create a lively atmosphere, but TV TOKYO did not follow this trend either.

 From the amateur competition show “TV Champion,” the concept of the “Oogui Senshuken” (Big Eater Championship) was born. “Kaiun! Nan Demo Kantei Dan” (“Lucky! Appraisal Anything Team”) originated from the idea of inviting viewers to bring their “treasures” from home.

Due to budget constraints, they couldn’t afford to cast big-name talents. The absence of Matsumoto Hitoshi is also for this reason. Naturally, even if they requested from the former Johnny’s office, popular talents wouldn’t come around.

Unable to afford high fees like other networks, TV Tokyo isn’t a lucrative prospect for talent agencies. Therefore, there isn’t much consideration given there. Of course, there may be some degree of it, but TV Tokyo doesn’t enjoy significant benefits from it, so even if incidents like this occur, the damage is minimal.

In the second part, we’ll delve deeper into the “TV Tokyo spirit” that underlies its consistent unique approach.

  • Text Toshihiko Tabuchi

    Professor of Visual Arts at J. F. Oberlin University. Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1964. After graduating from the Faculty of Law at Keio University, he joined TV Tokyo. He has produced documentaries on unexplored regions of the world and has visited more than 100 countries. On the other hand, he has also been actively involved in the production of social documentaries, tackling difficult issues such as the "United Red Army," "Elderly First Offenders," and "Stalking Perpetrators. He has also produced numerous drama productions. He retired from TV Tokyo in March 2011. His books include "New TV Theory in an Age of Chaos," "Victory Learning from the Weak: The Secret of TV TOKYO's 'Reverse Thinking' to Turn Disadvantageous Conditions into Strength," "Developmental Disabilities and Juvenile Crime," "Stalking Assailants: Please Run Away from Me," and "Learning from Unexplored Places: The Shape of Happiness. He is a regular member of the Japan Writer's Association, a regular member of the Japanese Society of Imaging Arts and Sciences, a regular member of the Japan Society of Arts and Sciences, and a regular member of the Japan Food Service Society. He founded 35 Produce Inc., which disseminates a variety of information through video.


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