Press Conference by President Shinichi Yoshida (Outline)

April 28th, 2015


Shinichi Yoshida, President
Masaya Fujinoki, Executive Director in charge of Finance Division, Corporate Strategy Division, & Compliance Audit Department
Gengo Sunami, Executive Director in charge of Business and Administration Division
Takashi Hirajo, Executive Director in charge of Programming Division

Audience Rating Update:

Shinichi Yoshida:

Our audience ratings as of now are at the second place in all categories; all-day, golden, prime-time, and prime-2. Among the new programs starting this April, "I'm Home" aired on Thursday kicked off very well and is now leading at the top among all the serial dramas aired by commercial broadcasters in this first quarter. And our new variety shows; "Stunning Revelations - A Variety Show with Real Buddhist Monks" (tentative English title) and "Shikujiri Teacher`Learn from Mistakes!", "Now I Know: Akira Ikegami's News Academy" (tentative English title) aired on Saturday, and "Cream Stew Presents a Hall of Superiority: What Only 30% of the Japanese Population Know." (tentative English title) aired on Sunday, have all kicked off well with double digit ratings which make me feel relieved as they all proved themselves worthy of our expectations. Such successful kick offs have contributed to year-on-year ratings increased by 1.1 points for golden-time and 0.5point for prime-time so far and we all look forward to even more successful results to come.

Takashi Hirajo:

I will talk about the latest audience ratings. As for the first quarter, the ratings are 6.9% for all-day, placing us second, 11.1% for golden-time, placing us second, 11.2% for prime-time, placing us second, and 6.9% for prime 2, placing us second. Next, I will go on to our annual rating status. Currently, the ratings are 7.2% for all-day, placing us second, 11.5% for golden, placing us second, 11.8% for prime, placing us second and 7.3% for prime 2, placing us second. Therefore, the annual ratings are also at second place in all categories. The rating for golden is now 0.2 point up from the previous year.

I will now give you a brief report on our new programs that started in April. "I'm Home" aired in The Thursday Drama slot is doing very well with 16.7% rating for its first episode and an average of 15.5% for the first two episodes, leading the top rating among the drama series aired by the commercial stations. The drama features star-studded casts including Takuya Kimura who plays the leading role for the first time in a TV Asahi drama and Aya Ueto. And the ratings for our new variety shows are: "Stunning Revelations - A Variety Show with Real Buddhist Monks" (tentative English title) achieved an average rating of 10.1%, "Shikujiri Teacher`Learn from Mistakes!" an average rating of 12.0%, "Cream Stew Presents a Hall of Superiority" (tentative English title) an average rating of 10.5%, and "Now I Know: Akira Ikegami's News Academy" (tentative English title) got 11.6% for its first episode. I think all of our new variety shows kicked off very well with such double digits while all stations are having difficult time with their new variety shows. Our variety shows that were featured in our Neo-Variety 2 slot (variety show slots following our programs starting 23:00), "Stunning Revelations - A Variety Show with Real Buddhist Monks" (tentative English title)and "Shikujiri Teacher`Learn from Mistakes!" are examples of our successful contents that moved up to golden-time in a mere six months. This time I think two of our new Neo-Variety 2 shows marked a very good start: "An All Out Research Show by Women: WhyHThereH" (tentative English title) aired on Wednesday achieved an average rating of 6.0% for the first four episodes so far, and "Strolling Streets at Night"(tentative English title) featuring Matsuko Deluxe got an average rating of 7.1% for its first four episodes.

As for our upcoming new programs, a new drama "Kyoto Victim Care Investigation File" will start on "Thursday Night Mystery" slot. And "Kan-Jam : KanzenNen SHOW" (tentative English title) will start on May 10th after the Golden Week. As for sports coverage: "Kirin Challenge Cup, Japan vs. Iraq" will kick-off at 19:00 on June 11th (Thursday) at NISSAN STADIUM, "The 115th U.S. Open Golf Championship" from June 19th (Friday) to 22nd (Monday), and "FINA World Championship, Kazan, Russia 2015" that starts on July 25th. The upcoming lineup for special one-off dramas includes "Unsolved Case Investigator" (tentative English title) starring Takashi Sorimachi scheduled to be aired on May 10th (Sunday), and "CSI: Crime Scene Talks" starring Takaya Kamikawa on May 17th (Sunday).

Sales Results:

Shinichi Yoshida:

I will talk about the sales results for March. The year-on-year results for the month of March are 87.2% for time-sales, 92.9% for spot-sales, making the total sales of 90.6%. As for time-sales, we could not reach the level of last year as we did not have any major one-off programs like the "2 Consecutive Nights Drama Special - Miyamoto Musashi" that we aired last year as one of our 55th anniversary specials. Spot-sales also didn't reach last year's level due to a big rebound from a year ago when we achieved the highest sales for a single month in the past owing to the last-minute demand before the hike in consumption tax.

Now I will continue with the sales results for April. The year-on-year results for the month of April so far are more than106% for time-sales, more than 90% for spot-sales, making the total sales of more than 97%. As for time-sales, the successful drama-slots during the second half of the last fiscal year are playing the role of major attraction in the on-going sales activities together with the reshuffled regular shows which are also attracting the buyers. In addition to these, a one-off program with Shiseido as its title sponsor, "ISU World Team Trophy 2015 presented by Shiseido", is expected to lead the sales to a much higher level than last year. On the other hand, spot-sales will not reach last year's level since the business branches where we are good at are making less advertisements. We want our sales results to catch-up after May.

As for the year-on-year results for May so far: they are more than 96% for time-sales, more than 77% for spot-sales, making the total sales of more than 86%. As for time-sales, since there are no large-scale one-off special scheduled for this month, we have to keep up our steady sales efforts to fill the vacant slots with an aim of exceeding the last year's level. And for spot-sales as of now, we do not think the result in Tokyo area will come up to the last year's level. Last year, the influence of the hike in consumption tax started to settle down in May and we were able to get many advertisements. Due partially to a rebound from that situation, food and beverage businesses, insurance and financial businesses, and the Internet and communications businesses are cutting down on their amount of advertisements for the month of May. We need to watch carefully how the market situation will evolve.

Revenue from Non-broadcasting Businesses:

Gengo Sunami:

I will report on the developments of our two new companies jointly established by TV Asahi and CyberAgent Inc. The name for the company offering a channel specialized in news is decided as "Abema News". Concurrently with "Abema News", registration formalities for "Abema TV", a company which manages a multi-channel video streaming platform, has also been completed and now it is established as a company. "Abema TV" is a company that manages a video streaming platform which receives contents from specialized video channels of various genres. It will create native applications on its video streaming platform for smart devices such as smartphones and tablets and will develop and offer subscription based video streaming services. Since we made the announcement of the launch of Abema TV, we have received far more inquiries and offers from contents-holders than we or CyberAgent had ever imagined. It is too early to make any further announcement at this moment, but the two companies will continue to work together to design an attractive platform.

The next subject is business related to events. Paul McCartney's "OUT THERE Japan Tour 2015" will hold its final concert at NIPPON BUDOKAN today. It was in the news already, but this is the second Japan tour of a former Beatles member Mr. McCartney. All the scheduled concerts of his Japan tour originally planned for May last year were cancelled abruptly because of his illness, and I am afraid it had caused much inconveniences to many people involved. He arrived in good condition this time and he has already done three concerts at Kyocera Dome in Osaka and Tokyo Dome. Today (April 28th), for the first time in almost half a century since the Beatles visited Japan in 1966, he will perform on the stage at BUDOKAN as the final stage for the tour. Each venue was full house and many of the audiences were of young generation, and Mr. McCartney's performance at stage was so powerful that it is hard to believe he is now 72 years old. The event was covered as a top news in various media as well.

I will now introduce some of the major events scheduled for next month. The first one is the lifework of Tetsuko Kuroyanagi as a stage actress, the 29th performance of her Western Comedy Series. The play will be held at our EX Theater Roppongi from the 16th through the 23rd next month. The comedy to be staged is a masterpiece of a world famous playwright Neil Simon entitled "Rumours". It is a light and hilarious play carried out mainly by dialogues, and they say there were more than 700 bursts of laughter per single performance! It is also one of Tetsuko-san's favorite plays and she had already played it three times in the past, in 1990, 2006 and 2012.

The next is a mega scale outdoors rock festival, "MetRock". It is a project of our own planning and organization and its official name is "TOKYO METROPOLITAN ROCK FESTIVAL 2015", which is going to be the third time to hold this festival. It will be held for two days from May 23rd (Saturday) to May 24th (Sunday) at Wakasu Seaside Park in Shin-Kiba. It is a large scale J-POP festival, very much a specialty of TV Asahi, that enjoys great support from many fans and, thanks to you all, tickets for 32,000 seats were all sold out again this year on the very date the tickets went on sale. 32 artists and groups including Sakanaction, Perfume, Elephant Kashimashi, Kyuso Nekokami, and veterans to up-and-coming music bands will perform on three stages during the two days festival.

I will continue with our publishing business. A book deriving from our regular show "Osamu Hayashi's Now or Never Infotainment" came out on April 2nd. The book is entitled "Osamu Hayashi's Now or Never Infotainment: "Secrets behind Everyday Syndrome" 11 Super Doctors' Lessons" (tentative English title). The publisher is KADOKAWA and the retail price is 1,300 yen excluding tax.

The last but not the least, I will talk about TV Asahi's mascot character "Go-chan". May 5th being his birthday, we will hold his birthday event "Go-chan. GOGO! PARTY!" again this year at TV Asahi's atrium during the Golden Week. This will be the 4th year to hold this event. It will be held over two days on May 4th and May 5th, and on his birthday the 5th, Sanrio's popular character "My Melody" will ginger up the event as she joins him to give him her birthday wishes. Merchandising products featuring collaboration of My Melody and Go-chan such as T-shirts are currently under development.

Takashi Hirajo:

I will explain about the movies we have invested in. Two animation movies which are now showing at theaters are going very strong. One is "Movie Crayon Shin-chan: We're Moving! The Cactus Suddenly Attacks!" It was released on April 18 and doing even better than its previous movie which made a record hit for the first time in 20 years and was placed as the 3rd ranking hit in its history last year. We have had an audience of 651,694 and box-office sales of 768,270,000 yen as of yesterday, which is 116.6% compared with the previous movie and we can expect it to achieve the record high, even surpassing the top movie of 20 years ago. Another big hit is "Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's Space Heroes," which is about to end now. It surpassed both "Doraemon The Wonderland 2014" of last year and "Nobita and the Island of Miracles-Animal Adventure," of 2012, which ranks at the 3rd place in its history and now it is officially announced that it has become the 2nd best hit in its history as of now. As of today, we have had an audience of 3,372,000 and box-office sales of 3,776,730,000 yen, making it a huge hit.

Request for President Yoshida to explain the case of "Hodo Station" once again:

Shinichi Yoshida:

As you know, the case of "Hodo Station" aired on March 27 was a confusion caused by Mr. Shigeaki Koga suddenly making a comment about his own appearance which was not related to the news at hand. Although we tried to deal with it to the best of our ability during the live broadcasting, we profoundly regret that the situation became inappropriate in the program. It was a totally unexpected comment, but we should take the responsibility for the result and for the fact that we could not prevent such confusion. So, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize again to the audience and the people whose names were mentioned as a result.

Immediately after the incident happened, our company has investigated the incident in our permanent organization, "Conference on Broadcasting and Ethics" and I will report the overview that the conference has come up as of now. Firstly, I will explain what actually happened on the day in question. It was March 27 and the staff members of the program had a briefing on the contents of the comments as usual. The staff members heard and wrote down the outlines of the comment which Mr. Koga would make in the program and the chief members of the program confirmed them before the broadcast. Of course, there weren't any contents which were unrelated to the news and Mr. Koga didn't mention anything which foretold he might make a comment unrelated to the news at the briefing. During the program, after the VTR showing the situations of the Middle East, the newscaster, Furutachi, asked him a question. Then, Mr. Koga suddenly made comments which weren't related to the news at all, such as, "this is my last appearance in the program due to the desire of the chairman Hayakawa and others, and I have received bashing from the chief cabinet secretary and other members of the office of the prime minister." In response to such comments, Furutachi expressed his protest, saying that he couldn't "accept such statement." The general manager of the news division and the chief member of the program discussed how to deal with the situation, and the chief went into the studio during the commercial break and told Mr. Koga firmly that it wasn't fair for him to make such a comment out of blue moon. However, Mr. Koga responded in such a way as "I will say it on air that I was told not to say anything that I hadn't mentioned during the briefing," and the commercial break ended while they were still discussing. At this stage we considered that we could terminate the appearance of Mr. Koga at that moment and ask him to leave the studio immediately. But, we thought it could cause further confusion to the program, and so we didn't ask him to leave the studio. After that, as you know, Mr. Koga made a second comment using inappropriate expressions again. So, Furutachi made a comment at the end of the program, saying "there were topics which weren't related directly to the news in the talk segment between Mr. Koga and myself. And I, myself, couldn't accept part of the talk that was carried out." After the program ended, the general manager of the news division and the chief member of the program made a strong protest against Mr. Koga, telling him that 'it constituted a violation of the rules regarding the role of a commentator to make a comment unrelated to the news without advance notice,' that "he had taken over the program,' and that 'the audience wouldn't be able to understand.' After the weekend, on Monday, March 30, the program showed the news conference of Mr. Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, making his comments to deny Mr. Koga's understanding saying that "it was completely groundlessc and it was absolutely inappropriate as a news report over the public airwaves." At the same time, we apologized to our audience for our failure in preventing the incident. Furthermore, at the press conference on March 31, our Chairman, Hayakawa made his statement that "we regret that we ended up in such a situation during the program while it is on aircand I sincerely feel that we should apologize to the people whose names were mentioned as a result." As for the question of political pressure, as the Chairman Hayakawa clarified during the press conference, "there was absolutely no such pressure" to chairman himself, or to me the president, or to the general manager of the news division. There is absolutely no pressure from the outside concerning the contents of our programs, the selection of the cast members, and the personnel affairs of the company, and all such decisions are made at our sole discretion. After this, we had a meeting of our Council on Broadcast Standard and Practices and discussed this matter as an agenda on April 24. The members of the council voiced severe opinions such as "it was an absolutely inappropriate broadcast" and "How did you fall into such a situation?" and we explained how it all came about. Also, after that, there was a request made to us by the LDP to attend their investigation committee which we had accepted and attended, but there were some criticism against our accepting the attendance. And under such situation, we received strong opinions that requested us to continue our thorough efforts in producing our programs, whereby giving the answers to this issue to our audiences through our programs. We think that the incident was caused by a lack of communication between the guest commentators and us or that we were unable to sufficiently build up a relationship of mutual trust with the commentators, and based on this assumption, we have put forth our preventive measures.

I will explain about the contents of the preventive measures and our company efforts. There are three major points in the preventive measures. First, we will set up a new section tentatively called "a commentator room" within our news division. The new section will work to improve the communication between commentators and the staff members of the programs and to build up a network with many intellectuals in a broad range of fields. They will take advantage of this network and give advice to various programs on the selection of cast members and commentators when such advice are in need. Next is how we will use the commentator room. We have an in-house system called "Opi Reco" which receives opinions from our audience via telephone and e-mails on various aspects of our programs including the comments of the commentators and puts them together as a report. And we also have a system of "live program monitoring," in which retired members of the news division watch our live programs and write their reviews. We will have the commentator room to make the most of the two systems than before and give thorough feedback to each program. And by doing so, we expect the commentator room to provide appropriate advice from multiple viewpoints. And thirdly, when we ask guest commentators to appear in the programs, we will, of course explain about the programs to them thoroughly in order to enhance their understanding on the content of the programs and, in addition we will have the producers and persons in charge of the programs try to contact the commentators on a daily basis to build a relationship of trust so that we can explain about the composition of the whole program and about the items requiring comments thoroughly to the commentators.

We regret that we had the inappropriate broadcasting within the program, and we have decided on the disciplinary actions to be taken as follows. We gave a "warning" to the co-director of "Hodo Station" of News Center, News Division and two other staff members as of April 27. Furthermore, as voluntary return of the salary of the members of the board, Shinozuka, the General Manager of the News Division shall return "10% of the monthly executive salary," Hayakawa, the Chairman and CEO "10% of the monthly executive salary" and I myself will return "10% of the monthly executive salary" respectively. The voluntary return of salaries is taken as a means to express our regrets as the executives are exempted from the rules of rewards and punishments of the company.

Our company will take this accident seriously and provide thorough instructions to the persons in charge of the programs again in order to minimize the risks of unexpected accidents which may happen during live broadcasting, to prevent them and to tackle them promptly if they ever happen. And we are reconfirming ourselves that if any inappropriate or improper matters should happen during live broadcasting, the producer or editor of the programs shall first take necessary measures, such as to apologize immediately in the programs on his own responsibility and then we will take corrective measures through the broadcasting of the program.