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TV fast becoming irrelevant medium

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“Historic shift,” “new era” – the boilerplate trotted out to describe July's switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting was rich in hyperbole. Actually, says Shukan Post (Aug 19-26), TV is entering something of a new era – not one it will want to celebrate. TV is becoming irrelevant, or at best, “a medium for the elderly.” Young people increasingly find their attention absorbed elsewhere.

Ah, the good old days. For TV, these were the 1950s. Still in its infancy, it had the vibrancy of novelty. Older Japanese even today fondly remember gathering at appliance store windows where TV sets were displayed – few people back then had their own sets – to watch the wrestler Rikidozan trounce American opponents and show his fans that Japan’s wartime defeat was not the end of the story. The medium proliferated. It became a symbol of prosperity. It threw up a plethora of popular stars and personalities, from enka singer Misora Hibari to baseball legend Shigeo Nagashima.

“In the early days,” says TV producer Takaharu Sawada, “TV was fired by passion, ideas. Somehow that faded into an obsession with ratings. If a program on another station had high ratings, you'd copy it. Now, everything on TV is the same. In the old days, it would have been an embarrassment to copy what another station was doing.”

Standards were jettisoned utterly during the bubble economy of the 1980s, Shukan Post finds. TV was the industry to get into, if you could, with its 20-million-yen a-year salaries and its unlimited expense accounts. Easy money fuels a buoyant lifestyle but poisons creativity.

Something else it poisons is honesty. Current programming furnishes Shukan Post with a perfect example. Talk shows since the March 11 earthquake-tsunami-meltdown are abuzz with discussions of “setsuden” – saving electricity. Panelists offer tips – set air conditioners no lower than 28 degrees, turn off lights, unplug appliances not in use, etc. “The unspoken truth,” the magazine reports, is that the best way to save electricity is to turn off your TV. There’s research to back that up – by the Nomura Sogo Research Center, which found switching off the TV saves 1.7 times more power than raising air conditioner settings. And nobody suffers heatstroke from a turned-off TV. But don’t expect to hear that on a TV talk show.

The fading of television’s glamour was apparent long before the switch to digital broadcasting. NHK research released in 2010 and cited by Shukan Post shows that 11% of the general population watched no TV at all in 2005, up from 8% 10 years earlier. That’s a significant, though not a precipitous drop. But the same research shows young people increasingly uninterested in TV fare, with males in their teens and 20s watching on average less than two hours of TV a day as against an overall average of three hours, 28 minutes. TV’s enduring popularity resides with people aged 70 and up. They watch on average more than five hours a day.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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TVs in Japan are virtual time machines. Turn on your set and you see the same entertainers and personalities, singing the same songs and telling the same jokes that they told in the 1970s. The only thing that changes is their hair style. And nobody in the entertainment business ever retires until they're literally carried out of the studio feet first. It's easy to understand why so many Japanese viewers are flocking to Korean imports, one of the few novelties that has come their way in decades.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Plenty of good TV shows on in other countries, that draw viewers and make bank in advertising. TV is only becoming irrelevant in Japan, because as Virtuoso said, they've been showing the same tired old crap for thirty years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There's TV (the actual box) and there's TV programming. While some might not be siiting at home in front of the TV, more and more are viewing programs (via YouTube for example) on their computers, tablets or keitai. I think it's more complex an issue than this article portrays.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having a remote control is largely irrelevant, or even a TV reception. Just record 5 minutes of any typical variety shows and show it on an endless loop on every channel. No one will be any the wiser.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And unfortunately many Japanese seem to be blissfully unaware of how lazy and dull their TV is. There's more quality in a week's programming on the 5 terrestrial channels in the UK than a year's worth of the 8 channels in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

scotchegg - RIGHT!

There is some superb TV in the U.K.

A notable example are BBC documentaries.

Fewer programs, fewer channels, higher quality.

But then, in the U.K. they script, direct and produce programs.

In Japan, they just get a bunch of guys in a room, get them talking and someone sits out of view of the camera with a keyboard that plays "audience response sound effects."

"Ooh!"

"Aaaah!"

"Ha, ha, ha!"

This is TV programming for the brain dead.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Further to the above.

When we moved to Okinawa six years ago, we decided to leave the TV behind.

Both of us are so glad that we did.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Best thing you can do for your health is to give your TV to the NHK guy and say thank your for their service. Even better if it is an old CRT that has a formidable weight. Those old plasmas really sucked up the juice also.

Many TVs/DVDs have built in wireless internet now. =TV is becoming the computer. Many phones do TV now.

Many indoctrinated TV viewers are upset about this. Gov/medi is very upset since they are losing control.

But look at Fukushima -did the TV actually cover this well or was the internet(s) better?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anyone with a internet, TiVo or suitable DVR already knows commercials are irrelevant. Regular scheduled TV and news? What is that? TV guides? Seriously. Look at network TV in America and you'll see the wasteland that is TV (reality shows and serial formulae CSI shows). I think only old people in every country are still following this regime.

In with the new and out with Government controlled & funded media. Viva la revolution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only channel you can watch here is BBC, the rest is all crap. I wished we had ARTE here with intelligent programs.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I like TV. I get SkyPerfect, and can watch lots of movies, news, older shows, etc. I don't have digital TV, however, and do not intend to convert, as there is no real motivation to do so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I replaced my TV for a PC monitor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I replaced my TV for a PC monitor.

me too, about 7 years ago, get out of "paying" for NHK too :P

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The internet has replaced the need for TV. With the internet you can watch what you like, when you like and without all of the childish commercials :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Till the net providers realise they will need to up rates because demand exceeds their capabilities and they need to buy new hardware and human workers.

The Net is not for FREE neither is the content, forums, etc that we use daily. Online advertisement still pays most of the bills but that is shrinking.

Also internet content providers now can no longer overlook the overseas market which has a different audience and wants contents in their local language.

You honestly think JT is providing this site and forum from the goodness of their hearts? Naah it is run for profit and we the visitors generate that. Ditto for Facebook, Twitter, you name it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here in the US we've got over 200 channels (& that's only a step or two above "basic"), but only watch about 10 of them regularly (half of that is movie channels). With only a couple exceptions, we prefer shows from the 60s & 70s over what's produced today. If we have the time, we'll watch a DVD instead of trying to find a decent program. When traveling we never turn on the TV- read instead.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only channel you can watch here is BBC, the rest is all crap. I wished we had ARTE here with intelligent programs.

Even, that's too painful to watch.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You don't need TV you have internet except for a good game of the British soccer premier league. I need the TV to watch first and foremost a Chelsea game and maybe the Super bowl.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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