Japan broadcast group expels Kansai

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TOKYO -- Japanese television company Kansai Telecasting Corp. has promised to clean up its act after being expelled from the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters for falsifying data in its documentary programming.

The association decided to make Kansai Telecasting only the second member to be expelled in its 57-year history after a panel set up to look into the scandal released its findings.

According to their report, the producers of "Hakkutsu! Aruaru Daijiten II" (Encyclopedia of Living) fabricated comments, facts and scientific findings in 16 programs examining the alleged health benefits of a range of foods. The matter came to light in January after the program claimed that eating fermented soybeans, known in Japan as "natto," would help people lose weight.

It was quickly revealed that the U.S. professor interviewed had been mistranslated and had not even carried out the research quoted. In addition, the production company, Japan Television Workshop, made up the results of medical tests and faked photos of test subjects.

"Kansai Telecasting Corp. takes this expulsion order seriously, and we promise to work hard to regain public trust in the corporation," the company said in a statement released late Tuesday.

The company is part of the Fuji Television group.

The expulsion will be endorsed at an upcoming meeting of the association's 201 member companies. The previous company banned, Shizuoka Daiichi Television, was permitted to rejoin 16 months after its March 1999 expulsion.

The most serious blow to the broadcaster is likely to be in terms of advertising revenue. In the wake of the scandal, cosmetics firm Kao Corp. withdrew its sponsorship of the long-running program, which was subsequently canceled after 6,000 complaints were received in a week.
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