Japan’s Abe seeks to remove ‘balance’ requirements in broadcast news

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By Yoshiyasu Shida, Ritsuko Ando

TOKYO – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to repeal a Japanese law requiring broadcasters to show impartiality, a step critics fear will lead to sensational reporting and polarize views, just as a similar move has been blamed for doing in the United States.

Abe’s government has drafted changes to Japan’s broadcast law and plans to include them in reform proposals as early as May, laying the groundwork for future legislation, three government sources told Reuters.

The sources, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the draft includes repealing the law’s article 4, which requires license holders to show contrasting political views and is considered Japan’s version of the U.S. Fairness Doctrine.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission decided to repeal the doctrine in 1987 after criticism that it restricted broadcasters’ freedom. The move, finalised in 2011, is widely credited with helping give rise to politically charged radio talk shows and news programs.

“Without having these safeguards, media outlets become more susceptible to market forces,” said Victor Pickard, associate professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. “The U.S. could serve as a cautionary tale.”…

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This article (Japan’s Abe seeks to remove ‘balance’ requirements in broadcast news) was originally published on Reuters and syndicated by The Event Chronicle


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