Scandal claims NHK jobs

Top news executives resign at pubcaster

Two managing directors of Japanese pubcaster NHK are expected to quit and president Genichi Hashimoto has tendered his resignation, as the company on Monday released a plan to prevent the spread of an insider trading scandal uncovered in its ranks last week.

Both of the managing directors expected to quit Tuesday — one of whom was responsible for legal affairs and the other for news reporting — are resigning to assume responsibility for insider trading by three staffers at NHK, or Japan Broadcasting Corp.

The two reporters and a manager used information from news stories before they were broadcast in order to buy and sell stocks in March 2007.

"The management's responsibility for sharply denting the audience's confidence is grave," Hashimoto told reporters.

Hashimoto's resignation is due to be discussed by the board of governors Thursday, the day his term as NHK president already was due to end.

Hashimoto had been appointed president with a mandate to reform NHK after a number of financial scandals had led to more than a million households refusing to pay their subscriber fees.

Though figures released earlier this month showed nonpayment rates continuing to fall, Hashimoto was not granted a second term as president. NHK's management committee reportedly considered his reforms to have been insufficient.

"The preventative measures we released today include revising the current corporation rules, forbidding staff with access to the news computer system to buy or sell shares within six months, and tightening the security of the internal news computer system," NHK spokesperson Naoko Sakamoto said.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission is also looking into the scandal.