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JAMCO Online International Symposium

24th JAMCO Online International Symposium

January 2016 - August 2016

The Current State and Challenges of Television Broadcasters in Asia.

Readers' Feedback (1)

Shusaku Morikawa

Review of the 24th JAMCO Online International Symposium Reports

The latest symposium featured reports from Afghanistan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyz. Although these countries are located in Asia, the situations surrounding their broadcasting media are poorly known in Japan. These reports written by people working in the media sector help shed light on the current status and challenges facing broadcasting in each of the four countries. A symposium of this kind, which JAMCO is exceptionally suited to host, is truly worthwhile and I hope to see it continued into the future.

After having read the four reports, I believe the biggest challenges lie in the areas of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In these countries in the midst of transitioning to democracy, freedom of expression and the rights of people to know are protected in their constitutions and laws. These basic liberties, however, are in reality restricted in numerous ways, either by government policies and regulations or due to unfair implementation of rules left at the discretion of those in power. The reports on Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyz touched on their constitutions and the rules governing media and betray the writers’ frustration toward the backwardness that continues to exist in their societies.

According to the reports, a lack of funds, equipment, manpower and experience has held back the growth of disaster reporting in Sri Lanka and Kyrgyz, even though it is an essential field recognized by law as crucial for protecting people’s lives and assets. As global awareness of disaster preparedness has increased since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, I wonder whether there isn’t a way for Japan to assist these countries in the area of disaster reporting.

As for broadcasting contents, the reports indicated that Japanese dramas and other TV programs receive less air time in these countries than programs produced in China, Korea and Russia – this despite high viewer demand for Japanese content. While a selection of Japanese TV programs is provided gratis to some countries through the work of JAMCO and the Japan Foundation, the resource-consuming nature of media localization, such as translation into local languages, subtitling and voice-over, seems to cause these organizations to think twice about providing programs to countries such as those discussed in the symposium. In order to help provide greater opportunities for more people overseas to become familiar with Japanese culture and society and foster a deeper understanding of Japanese people, I would like to see this activity extended to include a wider range of countries.

I lived for a time in Kyrgyz. Public broadcasting there has a long history, with 80 years of radio and 50 years of television broadcasting, but most of it under the Soviet regime and then the dictatorial government established after independence. Genuine democratization began only six years ago, meaning the country is still in the early transitional stage of becoming a truly democratic society.

I fully agree with Takanobu Tanaka’s commentary that broadcast media are “mirrors reflecting the conditions in a country.” The reports on the four Asian countries provide insights into the current conditions in countries that are gradually moving towards an open society and media. It is my sincere wish that this symposium will contribute to further social progress in these countries.

Shusaku Morikawa

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