Japanese charity telethon '24-Hour Television' faces criticism for poor spending and low popularity

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

In Japan, 24-hour TV shows are big events, and in summer, none is bigger than Nippon TV’s “24-Hour Television”. It’s an annual, live charity telethon that, despite its name, often runs for more than 24 hours. The goal for each one is to raise money for domestic or international social welfare, environmental protection, or disaster relief and support, and it has been a staple of Japanese summer television for 40 years.

But the director of the production company in charge of the telethon says that Nippon TV executives should either be extremely embarrassed, or quaking in their boots, because the show is apparently struggling due to low donation rates, inappropriate spending, lack of celebrity interest, and a decrease in viewer popularity.

Over the last few years, donation amounts have been steadily decreasing. Last year’s donations, in fact, were more than 3 billion yen lower than the average. Typically "24-Hour Television" brings in about 10 billion yen in donations, and after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, they raised an impressive 19 billion yen.

Sadly, though, last year’s donation didn’t even cap 7 billion yen, and the collections in 2015 and 2016 were also well under the 10 billion yen average. Apparently that’s due to the fact that an increasing percentage of donations were small-change donations instead of the larger donations received in previous years.

The problem of low donations is exacerbated by poor spending choices on the part of Nippon TV. Although they may have raised 7 billion yen, much of that was likely deducted for production expenses, some of which are allegedly extravagant. For example, the two MCs of last year’s show were paid 5 million yen each, which seems a tad high, given that the entire point of the broadcast is to raise money for charity.

Not only that, but the Charity Run, which is a main component of the show, is also a significant money drain. In this marathon, a celebrity “volunteer” makes a sizeable donation and runs roughly 100 kilometers through Tokyo to the Budokan where the live show is filmed. But the “volunteer” is not actually a volunteer; they are, according to the director, paid about 10 million yen to run.

Technically, they aren’t receiving “pay”, says the director; since the celebrities donate far more than they’re being paid. The salary they receive is also written off as “transportation expenses”, so, according to the books, they aren’t receiving anything they shouldn’t. But that seems like an oddly shifty way to go about accounting for a charity, and 10 million yen seems like an excessive amount of money for “transportation”.

Since Nippon TV is reportedly already paying 20 million yen to just three celebrities out of dozens that might appear, you can see how this suspicious spending is causing some controversy. In fact, when this information was released, the negative publicity spread like wildfire on social media, where many called the show hypocritical.

Because of this, many celebrities are rejecting offers to become the “Charity Runner”, citing it strange that they should get paid to participate in a fundraiser. Those that have accepted in recent years are one-hit wonders or new celebrities whose success may be thanks to their appearance on Nippon TV’s programming, and who, as a result, might find it more difficult to refuse.

Even fledgling celebrities are not interested in participating in this part of the show, though, because not only is it a truly difficult and time-consuming experience–they have to train with a marathon trainer for months before the airing of the show–, being the charity runner has come to have little value, even for newbies.

That’s in part thanks to the timing of the show–it’s on the weekend, which is the most lucrative time for celebrities, as it’s apparently when there are the most paying gigs. Celebrities can work at one or two sets on a Saturday and make more money, plus get better air time by appearing more than once on television. For those who are charity minded, they can later donate money in their private time, which is even better for their social image.

▼ A preview of this year’s "24-Hour Television," where popular Olympic ice skater Yuzuru Hanyu will apparently skate to Disney on Ice with children

"24-Hour Television" is even less appealing for celebrities because it is losing popularity among Japanese viewers. Many viewers these days dislike the show, which fills its more than 24 hours of content with emotionally charged drama specials, documentaries, and interviews with disaster victims or disadvantaged individuals. Some refer to it as “emotional porn”, since it capitalizes on sob stories and evoking emotional responses from viewers. Japanese viewers have already shown that they don’t like those kinds of segments, as revealed by a 2016 poll, which doesn’t bode well for the fate of the show.

"24-Hour Television’s" struggle to captivate audiences and gather donations, its shortage of willing celebrities, and its poor money management may lead the 40-year-old summer staple to its demise. Could it become another victim of a Japanese company’s refusal to adapt to changing markets and audiences, like the manga industry?

This year’s show, whose theme is “People who change lives”, and which will (hopefully) raise money for the flood-affected areas in Western Japan, will be aired live from 12 p.m. on Aug 25 to 7:20 p.m. on Aug 26. We’ll have to wait and see how this year’s show does to find out if it will survive to see another year.

Source: Yahoo! News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Poll shows most disabled people in Japan dislike “inspirational” documentaries about disability

-- Get a soda and good karma with this donation-accepting vending machine

-- Tohoku tsunami survivor’s $12K camera: heart-felt gift or PR stunt?

© SoraNews24

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the “volunteer” is not actually a volunteer; they are, according to the director, paid about 10 million yen to run.

That's a main problem of every Charity organization. The Charity Organization paid handsome salary for themselves and only a fraction of the amount the money the Charity raised was going to the Hospital and poor peoples.

The Charity is big business and volunteers are actually well paid employees and Charity CEO was the Company boss. The big Charity organizations have used 75% - 80% of the Charity money for the administration costs.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Because its boring and lame. Every year one poor talento is forced to run a hundred thousand miles to show their pain and suffering, arriving at the finish line crying. It's well meant, but the same thing over and over, of course people get fed up and stop donating. It would be better to make it a 3 hour segment.

Anyway, most of the donations go right back in to the organization's pocket.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Big salaries are a problem here and with some charities, but certainly not all of them.

24hr TV in Japan is on a commercial station with lots of ad breaks and paid presenters. That alone would be problematic enough, but it also approaches its subject matter in the usual dumbed down way of the commercial channels. The first link below the article describes it, but disabled people have come out and said that they detest the tearjerker portrayals of disabled people on 24hr TV where they are defined exclusively by their disabilities. Any footage where they are happy or witty or enjoying life has to be secondary to their struggles.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japanese people are not as generous as other countries.

It's too bad.


3 ( +7 / -4 )

This is just my opinion but Japan doesn't do charity very well. I remember when they had that big tsunami in South East Asia. So many countries did something to help. I remember seeing TV shows from HK, China, etc, and yet all I saw in Japan were boy scouts out in the streets collecting money. Good on them, but why do I hardly ever see Japanese companies, celebrities and politicians do any charitable work? Why do I never see celebrities on TV quiz shows win money for charity instead of for themselves?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I've always hoped that an investigative journalist would delve into these show to pinpoint exactly how much money or what percentage ends up in the hands of the needy, after all the fat cats get their cut. I've long suspected that the answer is not much.

Do the producers publish full financial reports?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

the two MCs of last year’s show were paid 5 million yen each

Nippon TV is reportedly already paying 20 million yen to just three celebrities

As the saying goes, "charity begins at home". NTV should ask these "celebrities" to work for nothing and see what kind of a show they can put together. 24 hours of an empty studio would be a big improvement on the usual drivel on TV here.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Financial reports can be found on the program’s homepage:


4 ( +4 / -0 )

Also note that there are sections under the button on the left labeled 寄付金の使われ方 (how donations are used) that give photos and details such as the types and numbers of vehicles, wheelchairs, prosthetics, etc that have been donated over the years.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The purpose of this charity is a good idea. However, if any staff or anyone working the event is monetarily paid, then that defeats the purpose of "volunteer" a charity.

ScroteToday 11:33 am JST

the two MCs of last year’s show were paid 5 million yen each

Nippon TV is reportedly already paying 20 million yen to just three celebrities

That even defeats the purpose more, and it makes me lose respect for this charity. I guess we're better off giving to the actual organizations that support these cause sans talento and MC.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Because like most other "variety" shows on Japanese tv, the content is nauseatingly tedious. They could replay last years one and no one would know the difference

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So basically viewers are paying the celebrities salaries here, great. Isn't there a free app or something that allows people to make straight donations to their favorite charities? Eliminate the middleman.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

24 hour TV, well cut that down to 5-6 hours on a Friday night or Saturday, next get some one who will run the charity on a lower wage or zero ( if possible) get the stars and celebrities to give there time up for a good cause, volunteers should be volunteers ( where possible ) what annoys people who donate money to these worthy causes is that fat cats are skimming cash out of the system and the money is not where it should go to, the needy. I think that people would watch 5-6 hours of high quality TV rather than watching 24 hour of dross, does the TV program show what has happened to last years money, and how its been spent? and how peoples lives have improved? as for advertising on a peak time TV program, yes there should be very limited adverts, but you could charge a premium price, to much advertising makes me switch of the TV. once the TV organisers have got the right balance TV rating will go back up, but you have to make it interesting other wise they will switch off, and they are doing just this. change the format, change management, and the structure. make sure 90% of the cash raised goes to the people or the cause it for.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If this program continues, the main personalities and runners should definitely be paid. They are literally working and running for 24 hours. Also, usually the main personalities are Johnny's, and they don't really have a say in what jobs they take, they have to do whatever the agency tells them to, so they are not "volunteers" either way, and if they don't get paid, then they're just slaves. But yeah, they should probably just stop it all together, it's inhumane to the main personalities/runner and like the article says, inefficient in raising money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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