With this paper’s earlier chapters having covered Japan’s relationship with gender, current masculinities and Japanese television industry, this appendix looks to provide further context in discussing the country’s television industry, beginning with an economic overview of this sector followed by analysis of TV’s wider social relevance in the context of Japanese culture. The rise of television as the fulcrum of Japanese homes began in the 1950s, moving away from an early practice of open-air sets towards a change in TV’s social significance – ‘as this trend continued, the focus of television programming shifted…to programs more suited to “relaxed domestic viewing” such as dramas and studio programs’ (Yoshimi 2005, p. 543). The passing of 1950’s Broadcast Law saw Japan adopt a television structure mirroring both European and American frameworks at the time, introducing a mix of both public and private broadcasting networks (Dunnett, 2011) – at present this structure reflected as a split between both terrestrial and satellite channels with the latter a mix of both regular and communication satellite systems (Nippon, 2015). Of the two mediums, terrestrial broadcasting far exceeds both satellite and cable networks in terms of reach; the logistics of commercial programming transmission through Japanese airwaves far more accessible (NTV, 2007). Within this framework, both public (NHK) and private (ANN, TXN etc.) broadcasters have enjoyed expansion across both formats; the industry seeing relatively marginal intervention from the Japanese government.
Whilst there exists minimal state intervention policies allowing for substantial private broadcasting expansion and increased freedom amidst transnational processes (Jin, 2003), one of the only market sectors faced by government intervention surrounds foreign ownership with a number of restrictions in place affecting both terrestrial and satellite broadcasting networks (Rohn, 2010). With a number of studies associating such practices as illustrative of the industry’s nationalistic tendencies (Dissanayake 2012, Seaton 2007, Yoshimi 2005, Stronach 1995), Japan remains the only nation (US aside) whose TV content remains a strictly domestic practice with more than 95% of its content produced in-house (compare this to initial post-war trends with the majority of programmes imported from the US – Iwabuchi 2008, 2004). In terms of income, Japan’s television industry remains relatively constant, with total annual revenue of the last 10 years in the region of £30bn (typically second to the US – Ofcom 2012). With the switchover to digital broadcasting in 2012, the rise of online streaming services across the Western world has only recently impacted Japan – yet the country remains the leading nation in the adoption of IP-connected TVs, with early 00 sales eclipsing sales levels in both Europe and the US (Futuresource, 2011). In short, the television has cemented itself as a fundamental aspect of Japanese life, and with only recent trends hinting at increased market opposition from tablets and similar devices (Nippon 2015, Research Monitor 2014), Dunnett describes the economics of Japan’s television industry as ‘mature’ – established, conditioned, with minimal opportunities for expansion outside of new technologies (2011, p. 170).
In terms of programming, current Japanese television is best characterised as a combination of dramas, variety shows and infotainment (Keane et al, 2007). It also remains predominantly nationalistic in the production of content – an analysis of all Tokyo-based TV stations in 1993 evidenced foreign content as accounting for just 5% of broadcast time (Hagiwara, 1995) – a trend still in evidence today. Another aspect of Japanese television has been the establishment of prime-time broadcast slots, somewhat fashioned as a result of Japan’s gendered private/public spheres (and the working hours associated with these sectors). Among them include golden time (7-10pm and of particular relevance during the 60-80s), the morning period (7-9am, associated with NHK serialized dramas) and the midday 11-2pm window with dramas again the as dominant genre (Yoshimi, 2005). Perhaps the most prominent characteristic across Japanese programming however is that of its intertextuality – cited by many as an extensively commercialised arrangement synonymous with advertising (Darling-Wolf 2004, Moeran 1996). Heavily dependent on corporate funding and Japan’s celebrity system, only the national public broadcaster NHK remains an exception, subsidized by public licensing fees and free from the pressure encountered by private networks from advertising sponsorship (Buckley, 2002). Television airtime in Japan is typically sold as either commercial spots or programme sponsorship (Mooney, 2000) – the former incorporating advertiser’s use of Gross Rating Points to determine their effectiveness with the late 90s signalling a transition away from the latter as broadcasting companies oversaw the switchover to digital television (Kawashima, 2006). Even so, the intermarriage across Japan’s wider entertainment industry has often seen television programming circumvent this issue with the placement and promotion of Japanese celebrities; idols and talents now an ever-present element of the country’s television landscape (Prieler et al 2010, Praet 2009, Moeran 1996). In summary, the majority of Japanese celebrities exist as commercial products signed to performer management companies (jimusho), a framework of interrelated talent agencies wielding considerable power within Japan’s entertainment industry (Marz, 2012). These talents also play a very different role in comparison to their Western equivalents; approachable, charming and relatable, Japanese celebrities are constructed as personalities the audience perceive as synonymous with their own lived experience (Prieler et al, 2010) – a process amplified through the aforementioned intertextuality of Japan’s media industry.