Cost-cutting hits TV stations

The economic downturn is affecting the major TV network stations. Various efforts are being made to cut back on expenditures, including the laying off of newscasters Estuko Komiya and Maya Kobayashi. The five key commercial TV stations in Tokyo have suffered losses of up to 10%, according to their financial reports for fiscal 2009, and are under increasing pressure to reduce expenses.

As one TV network executive comments, up to 20 million yen used to be allocated for one-hour variety shows, but current production costs have been cut to a third of what was available two years ago. Apparently they cannot afford to go on locations for programs either. Viewers may not notice that there are more studio filming and fewer outdoor scenes in dramas because of the expenses involved.

A director who was involved in a drama that used a number of young actors explained that all of them, with the exception of the actor with the lead role, were asked to use public transportation to save taxi fares. For early morning shooting, the less-known youngsters had to come to the studio by train the day before, and stayed overnight in the “nap rooms” with other program staff. 

Both TV stars and staff complain about the low quality of meals now provided at the stations. No snacks are offered in the backstage rooms either. But will cost-cutting create innovative ideas for TV programming?

  • 0

    some14some

    But will cost-cutting create innovative ideas for TV programming?

    Perhaps no. Simple yet solid effective measure will be to cut few TV stations.

  • 0

    NeoJamal

    Close down at midnight or more paid programming anime?

  • 0

    DentShop

    But will cost-cutting create innovative ideas for TV programming?

    Define "innovative". Cost-cutting in the US and Australia led to Idol, Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars. Massive for TV and pop-culture and made billions for their respective networks - but hardly innovative. There were some good things to come out of cost-cutting however. The Office, Kitchen Nightmares and Trailer Park Boys are funny and clever without us feeling we cant live without them.

    Japanese TV looks as if it has been cost-cutting for years already. The same Talento(s) on every network, poorly made game shows and outdated concepts. Japanese TV must be aimed at the middle-aged if you look at its content and advertising - this market will probably sit through anything.

  • 0

    saru_au

    I guess this means more (non-)TALENTO based studio shows with pleanty of "SUGOI" and "OISHII" comments - can't wait!!

  • 0

    wanderlust

    Lower salaries for the overpaid top 'talent' who appear on 'all the shows' may free some monies for the less famous, and some real talent may emerge, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

  • 0

    michaelqtodd

    Wow.Public transport even for those poor young people.One hopes they have not been permanently traumatised

  • 0

    stuarto

    Ive had major roles on TV and in movies for years, and as a foreign talento all Ive ever got was a train fare allowance and cheap bento. Welcome to the real world!

  • 0

    5SpeedRacer5

    DentShop is right on. The stale fare gets more stale. So what? Somebody should buy a tv station... wait a tick... someone tried two years ago... that offensive gazillionaire wanted to buy Fuji TV.

    Anyway, someone should buy a station and start producing knockoffs of reality shows. Japanese COPS would be a lot of fun. In this economy, you could make reality shows of all kinds of stuff. Japanese versions of South Park and other crazy satire should find SOME reliable market here. G4 is one of the lamest of the lame cable channels overseas, but they seem to be having a lot of fun even when they are showing junk gleaned from YouTube. With the number of homes wired for cable, why not have cable access so Japan can have its own Wayne's World? Get some bands to play public domain music for free and have contests. Why not college football or baseball?

    The article above describes the difficulties in meeting the costs of programming. I think that their model is all wrong. If you chuck the tired old format and TARENTO JIMUSHO, you can produce shows for next to nothing. People will enjoy them. Hey, if KOUHAKU gets ratings, tell me a NORI-P reality show wouldn't.

  • 0

    5SpeedRacer5

    They can't produce a one hour show for 8,000,000 yen? Let's call that 90,000 dollars. They are bums who deserve to fail. There are plenty of hungry talented people who can eat their lunch. Reportedly, the first South Park episode cost 750 dollars to make. Give some young creative people a network and they will be number one in three years. Hate to bring this up, but look at Fox or the Comedy Network. They each kicked the old standbys in the teeth. Now each has a huge library of shows that they can pull off the shelf, syndicate, or whatever. Sony should do this.

  • 0

    gogogo

    How about paying the writers more, it's all crap.

  • 0

    Sarge

    "asked to use public transportation to save taxi fares"

    I'll bet the taxi business is not happy about this.

  • 0

    tarento

    Do more with less. Put on a show like "American Idol" or "Britain's Got Talent" - "Japan Idol" or "Japan's Got Talent". There must, what, two or three people in Japan who can actually sing.

  • 0

    harmoneeikaiwa

    Reality tv would never work in Japan.

  • 0

    realist

    Japanese TV is so unbelievably boring anyway, I dont really care if the whole caboodle shuts down - especially NHK.

  • 0

    JohnBecker

    Step 1: place a decent quality TV camera in a cage in an interesting place (Harajuku, Shibuya Station's Hachiko exit, etc.) and put a sign next to it: "Do something interesting and be on TV tonight!"

    Step 2: At 6:00 PM, edit the best into an hour show with no host - just a graphic and voiceover at the beginning, at breaks, and at the end.

    Step 3: Air at 8:00 PM, and at the very least you'll get everyone who did something in front of the camera. Do a little media blitz about "Japan's version of reality TV" to stir up some curiosity.

    This show would cost almost nothing to produce. Just change the camera location once or twice a year and ask the viewing public, "Are the otaku in Akiba as crazy as the kids in Harajuku?"

    Costs almost nothing to produce, just needs a little bit of a marketing kick-start. Like printing money.

  • 0

    skroknog

    up to 20 million yen used to be allocated for one-hour variety shows

    What a waste of money.

    Put on a show like "American Idol" or "Britain's Got Talent" - "Japan Idol" or "Japan's Got Talent".

    More garbage. They already have stuff like this.

    How about less TV time, cut back the number of stations and pool the money to make some quality shows.

  • 0

    nightvision

    Yeah, less TV time does save a lot of money. I wonder though if the TV executives are aware that they can sign off at midnight.

    JohnBecker: hey, that's a great idea! Although you probably would need to get a policeman just in case someone tries to steal the camera all to himself.

  • 0

    goddog

    Funny article.

  • 0

    NeoJamal

    Do more with less. Put on a show like "American Idol" or "Britain's Got Talent" - "Japan Idol" or "Japan's Got Talent". There must, what, two or three people in Japan who can actually sing.

    Japanese political correct can't stand cricising people in public or a serious elimination contest.

  • 0

    NationalistRE

    Solution:

    FUJI JOCX-DTV FUJI JOCX-DTV, we now go live via satellite to BBC World

  • 0

    michaelqtodd

    Presumably TV will just die off anyway as Japanese people gradually wake up to the fact that watching TV is not why they are here on this earth. In the meantime surely 2 channels are more than enough.I have barely ever watched it but recently was in a hotel and flicked through 7 channels on a Sunday night and they all seemed to be drivel and all pretty much the same kind of drivel. They have some nice cinematography in the ads sometimes

  • 0

    target

    i did an in studio cooking show demo recently for a tv station, we were husseled in and out, 1 time check for the segment in a back corner before filming, it was no frills, high pace start to finish. they were running lean and mean compared with my experience overseas

  • 0

    DenDon

    i did an in studio cooking show demo recently for a tv station

    did they scream "ooiiiishiiiii"? you're doing it wrong otherwise.

  • 0

    target

    did they scream "ooiiiishiiiii"? you're doing it wrong otherwise.

    no they didnt....perhaps thats where I went wrong, although 1 of the panel had to go to hospital to get his stomach pumped and the flame from the gas hob set the product in a young womens hair alight.... I am still waiting for an invite back.

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy

    Target...now that sounds like show really worth watching! :-D

  • 0

    jason6

    actors getting groped on the train before arriving on location for a j-drama shoot. it's so japanese!

  • 0

    newsninja

    looks like those bony "no-tarentos" have been avoiding the food at the TV stations for years already!... then you have the big dude in the overalls (Ishii), who goes "mai-u" to everything he stuffs in his mouth - eating freebies in external restaurants - looks like he discovered where the bread was buttered, so to speak, a few years back... oh, no more backroom snacks - poor souls, how can they possibly survive and be expected to perform... no wonder the TV shows are generally so devoid of anything of interest and the ones that draw in the most "stars" are those "travel around the countryside and stuff your face" and go "oishii" based shows... they genuinely are hungry !!!

  • 0

    HonestDictator

    Hmm, would a Japanese, "Price is Right", "Wheel of Fortune", or "Jeopardy" work a bit?

    The variety shows need to cut back a LOT though imo. An "Idol" show would be cool, but it would help if they can get some serious judges that know how to know singers with actual skill.

    Are there any other programs like what I see on the American PBS like Nature, Nova, Antique's Roadshow, international travelling programs, etc? Those are pretty good.

  • 0

    zaichik

    One way of cutting costs would be to have game shows with "ordinary" people as participants, not tarento. I've never understood why only tarento seem to get the opportunity to win the good prizes - aren't they getting paid to appear anyway? You wouldn't have to pay a fee to get ordinary people to participate - just train fares, a bento and the chance of a decent prize.

  • 0

    chuckers

    There was an article quite some time back saying that the Japanese didn't really like watching "ordinary" people on game shows win things on tv shows. Something to do with jealousy or the like. As a result, the shows eventually started to phase out "ordinary" people and migrate to "talento" doing the shows (e.g.: "Who Wants to be a Millionaire")

    About the only "game" show featuring "ordinary" people I can think of is "Shinkon-san Irasshai!" Oh, and perhaps "TV Champion"

  • 0

    Mittsu

    It's all rubbish. I also heard about the "jealous of normal people on TV" thing. Weird, using the oyaji on the street would save something. J reality shows would be grim - also problem would come with seeing honne and not tatemae. Local food shows are rubbish. Non J ones (e.g. Antony Bourdain, some of the UK ones) can be pretty good.

  • 0

    Beelzebub

    Suggest they try showing reruns from the 1970s. Nobody'll be able to tell the difference...

  • 0

    satsumahayato

    it is natural result of one's own deeds. TV staff look down on viewing audience. As a result, the viewing audience did not watch on TV. Now transmission contents are not very interesting.

  • 0

    herefornow

    A classic Catch-22 -- TV ratings are down because the shows all suck, and young folks are hooked on their mobiles, so they cut production costs, and therefore quality, even more. Which, will cause even lower ratings and advertising spend, which will cause more cuts, etc. The TV stations, production and talent agencies, and advertising firms have slayed the Golden Goose. And I for one, don't shed a tear for any of them. They were too stubborn to change years ago when they should have.

  • 0

    IvanCoughalot

    Wow, what tragic news. I do hope the quality of broadcasting won't suffer. I never tire of being told by a fat man that food in a restaurant tastes nice.

  • 0

    Altria

    I've noticed heaps of advertorial programs recently - guess and eat the top 10 items on the Gusto menu, look inside the Pocky factory etc.

    I'm not sure who's paying who for these kind of shows.

  • 0

    Junnama

    Reruns of "Taiyo ni Hoeru" would be awesome!!

  • 0

    pathat

    The last thing TV stations should do is cut back on salaries for their beautiful "joshiana".

    Ratings would plummet as more people got their news elsewhere.

  • 0

    Gravitybrakes

    thats ok the programming sucks anyways even when they had money :P Im not gonna miss out on anything

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