Hatsumode, Hakone Ekiden, and Traffic Jam Video…… New Year’s Eve and New Year’s TV Men’s Woes | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hatsumode, Hakone Ekiden, and Traffic Jam Video…… New Year’s Eve and New Year’s TV Men’s Woes

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Meiji Shrine is visited by many worshippers every New Year’s Day. The New Year’s visit to the shrine is a big deal, and many TV crews have cried over it. …… Photo: ©Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/Communications Images

The end of the year is approaching, and everyone is probably in the “let’s just relax and watch TV” mode.

On the other hand, the New Year’s holiday season is not a time to relax for the TV producers.

One of the reasons why they are so busy is that they have a lot of special programs to organize until the very end of the year. The author, who has been in the industry for 30 years, would like to introduce “Behind the Scenes of New Year’s TV”.

(1) News programs are in a battle against running out of material

I have been involved in the production of news and variety shows for many years, and there is nothing more annoying than “not having enough material”. The news usually stops happening after the end of the work year, and on the first three days of the year, the world is in a state of “sticky rice” and there is not a single stir.

Since we can’t hastily shorten the broadcast time because nothing happens, we have to struggle hard to find stories about the first sunrise, the first sunrise runaway, traffic jams and crowds, New Year’s visits, and the first sales. Of course, there is nothing better than the first sunrise runaway, so please don’t do it.

(2) Difficult to broadcast the first visit to the shrine

The most difficult of all is the “New Year’s visit” broadcast. The two most difficult relays are the ” New Year’s visit” and the “traffic jam, ” and I’m sure many TV people have cried over them. I’ve cried many times myself.

What’s so difficult about broadcasting a New Year’s visit? Why don’t you just go there and film it? For example, more than 3 million people visit the Meiji Shrine every year, and it is very difficult to broadcast live in the midst of the huge crowd.

In order to broadcast live, a large broadcasting van must be parked near or inside the shrine, and cables must be run hundreds of meters from the van to the main shrine. If a person were to trip and fall on these cables, it would be a disaster.

In addition, we had to secure a waiting area for the staff and a changing room and make-up area for the female announcers within the premises. It’s Anna! If people came to the shrine because of the announcer’s presence, an accident might occur. There were many preparations to be made, such as detailed meetings with the shrine for over a month, preliminary inspection, checking the signal condition at the parking lot of the broadcasting van, and safe cable laying routes.

Moreover, when it came time for the show! When it came time for the live broadcast, I was called in every hour or so for a live broadcast, so I was at a loss for things to talk about. To be honest, there was basically nothing to talk about except “there are a lot of people” and “it’s cold”. In such a situation, the director and the female announcer are struggling to come up with something to talk about.

In terms of the difficulty of preparing for live broadcasts, I think the preparation for the Hakone Ekiden relay is unbelievably difficult. I have never been directly involved in the preparation of the Hakone Ekiden, but I always admire the hard work that goes into it.

After all, they have to clear all the points from Tokyo to Hakone so that the images will not be disturbed even if there are obstacles such as pedestrian bridges blocking the signal. Furthermore, the buildings along the route change every year, so “the same as last year” does not work, and careful preparations are necessary every time. The reason why we can see the beautiful images of the Hakone Ekiden every year is because of the bloody efforts of the staff of NTV.

(3) Stations compete in “traffic jam” broadcasting for some reason

Along with the New Year’s visit to the shrine, live coverage of traffic jams is another difficult task. During the year-end and New Year’s holidays, there is a rush to return home or make a U-turn, resulting in huge traffic jams on expressways all over the country, and it is surprisingly difficult to broadcast live traffic jams.

Unmanned cameras are usually set up at places where congestion is heavy, such as the Hachioji toll gate on the Chuo Expressway and the Tokorozawa interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway, but this time of year, other stations also set up unmanned cameras to capture images of heavy traffic jams. At this time of the year, each station also sets up unmanned cameras and aims for “heavy traffic” footage, resulting in a competition to see which station’s news has the heaviest traffic jam footage.

Where should I put this special camera? And which camera should be connected to the live feed for the next news to be the most crowded? It’s difficult to predict these things. Of course, I make my predictions by interviewing NEXCO and the Japan Road Traffic Information Center in detail beforehand. …… But when it comes to the “real thing,” why is it that cars are often driving smoothly along the roads that are captured by unmanned cameras? It’s a never-ending mystery that even I, a veteran, can’t figure out.

4) The fate of the news is largely determined by the time it is broadcast

During the year-end and New Year’s holidays, news programs and TV shows often go off the air. At TV Asahi, where I worked, “Super J Channel” and “News Station” are suspended, and during the year-end and New Year holidays, only short, regular news programs such as “ANN News” are usually broadcast. When the programs are suspended, the staff, mainly the younger ones, will be absent except for occasional shifts.

However, the length of this break varies greatly depending on the time the program is aired.

The evening news programs are usually taken off early to make way for the year-end and New Year’s specials. They usually go off the air early. The last program of the year may be broadcast as early as around Christmas. The New Year’s vacations start as early as the 5th, or usually the 8th, depending on the calendar, so if all goes well, the program staff can take an extended vacation of more than two weeks.

This is slightly shorter for the evening news. The program will be broadcast until the end of the year, usually on the 28th. And the new year starts around the 4th, so the vacation period is roughly a week or so.

The most miserable part is the morning wide shows. Since there are almost no special programs in the mornings, there is plenty of time for them to broadcast until about the 30th of the year. And even at the beginning of the year, if they are not good, they have to show a “New Year Special” on the 2nd, which means that they can hardly take a break during the year-end and New Year holidays.

Thus, the fate of the staff of news programs is greatly affected by the broadcast time.

So, what do you think of this behind-the-scenes look at New Year’s TV?

I would be very happy if, when you watch TV in the New Year’s mode, you can think, even just a little, that there are people who work tirelessly to make this TV.

  • Text Hiromichi Chinmoku / TV producer and writer

    Joined TV Asahi in 1992. After covering the Great Hanshin Earthquake and Aum Shinrikyo as a reporter in the Social Affairs Department, he worked as a director for Super J Channel, Super Morning, and News Station before becoming a producer. After working as a director of Super J Channel, Super Morning, and News Station, he became a producer. He has been involved in many overseas projects, including coverage of China, the Korean Peninsula, and the terrorist attacks in the United States. In August 2019, he became an independent producer and has been active not only in broadcasting but also in various media. He is also a part-time lecturer at the Department of Newspapers, Faculty of Letters, Sophia University. As a member of the Society for Public Communication, she has studied regional media, and has researched and written articles on face-hame-panels as her life's work. His recent publications include "Dramatically Increase Access and Registration! Video Production" (Nihon Jitsugyo Shuppansha).

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