TV Tokyo denies biased reporting


TOKYO -- Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo Corp. has defended its news reporting from allegations of political bias in the run-up to crucial elections for the House of Councilors on July 29.

Opposition parties are considering lodging formal complaints with broadcasting watchdogs, alleging that the broadcaster gave favorable coverage to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in violation of Article 3 of the Broadcast Law.

"We have heard the criticisms, and we base the selection of our programming purely on journalistic values," TV Tokyo spokesman Tom Oki said. "The problem is that the government has not formally announced that there will be an election, so the election campaigns have not actually started. As soon as that formal announcement is made, we will of course abide by the law concerning political neutrality."

Nippon Television Network has been hit with similar claims of bias.

Both stations broadcast live interviews and coverage of Prime Minister Abe but only videotaped interviews with the leaders of the opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party.

"We try very hard to be fair and unbiased in our coverage," Oki said. "That may of course mean that one party gets more air time on one particular day, but other parties get additional time on following days. Over the period of an election campaign, it evens out."

Critics point out that a politician taking part in a live studio debate has the ability to reply or rebut, while someone who only appears in a prerecorded interview has no such luxury.