NHK Denies Receiving Pressure from Johnny & Associates Talent Agency About Former SMAP Member Coverage

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Agency received warning from Fair Trading Commission about potentially violating Antimonopoly Act

NHK senior official content curator Masahiko Yamauchi released a statement on Wednesday saying that the NHK had received "no pressure whatsoever" from Johnny & Associates Talent Agency. He refrained from further comment about the Fair Trading Commission's investigation of the talent agency.

Last week, Johnny's posted a notice on its website on Wednesday denying that it had been pressuring TV stations to reduce coverage on three former members of the popular boy band SMAP. The notice indicated that the agency had received a warning from the Fair Trading Commission for potentially violating the Antimonopoly Act, which prohibits unreasonable restraints on trade and news coverage, but denied any actions that went against this law.

Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori ended their contract with Johnny & Associates in 2017. The agency made the decision at the request of the three former members. Since forming their new group Atarashiichizu, the three artists have received noticeably little TV coverage.

Insiders in the TV business have alleged that Johnny & Associates threatened to limit appearances of its own talent if stations gave more coverage to three artists.

The notice on the Johnny & Associates website states that the company had not received a disposition, nor were any administrative actions being taken. However, the agency did admit that it was under investigation and that it would "endeavor to prevent misunderstandings in the future."

The Fair Trading Commission was unable to determine hard evidence regarding the agency's alleged pressure tactics. It is understood that the warning was issued to prevent any potential violation of the Antimonopoly Act in future.

Johnny & Associates announced in August 2016 that SMAP would break up at the end of the year, after a career spanning over a quarter century. The talent agency had said at the time that the five members would remain with Johnny & Associates going forward, but would focus on their solo careers.

SMAP (Sports Music Assemble People) formed in 1988 with six members, although Katsuyuki Mori left the group in 1996. The band debuted with their first single in September 1991.

Image via Atarashiichizu.

Source: Sponichi Annex via Hachima Kikō

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