Thursday, January 30, 2014

Update to the "Ashita, Mama ga inai" controversy - 30th January 2014

More news and developments in the controversy surrounding "Ashita, Mama ga inai".

- All 8 sponsors of the drama suspended their CMs as of 28 January and the change will take effect from the third episode onwards. However, it looks set that the sponsorship contracts are still in effect even though the CMs won't appear during the drama's broadcast. Most of the companies which made this decision cited reasons such as requests from customers to withdraw the CM deals and inappropriate environment or circumstances to air their CMs. The vacated CM slots were then filled up by programme trailers, CMs from other companies which are not sponsors of the drama and public service commercials from the Advertising Council Japan (commonly known as AC Japan). Despite the controversy and hoo-ha over the sponsors' reactions, Episode 3 bounced back strongly by 1.5% to hit 15%.
Source: Sanspo / Sponichi

- During the regular press conference held by NTV on 27 January, NTV's president Okubo Yoshio asked those who are protesting against the drama to watch it till the end in order to get the full picture of what they are trying to convey. As such, there are no plans to axe the drama which consists of 9 episodes.
Source: Sponichi

- The National Children's Welfare Facilities Association has filed a new complaint to NTV on 29 January after receiving new reports on the adverse effects brought about  by the drama. One girl was said to have inflicted an injury on herself after watching the drama and was treated at the hospital while another child who lives in a welfare home was teased by classmates. The Association is asking for an official written reply by NTV by 4 February.
Source: Sanspo

- Takasu Clinic bucks the trend by becoming a new sponsor of the drama. It was said that the director of the clinic, Takasu Katsuya said via Twitter on 29 January due to some unforeseen circumstances, their new CM featuring former figure-skating queen Ando Miki was not able to make it in time for the third episode's broadcast. However, he said that the CM should be aired from next week onwards.
Source: Sponichi

- NTV still doesn't lose out even if sponsors take flight? It appears as if the sponsors signed seasonal deals lasting from January to March so NTV still gets its CM income even if the CMs are not shown on TV. According to an advertising industry insider, the general market rate for a primetime CM slot is more than JPY 30m per company. Going by this calculation, NTV should have made between JPY 250m and JPY 300m per month from its 8 sponsors through this drama which then translates into a total income of JPY 750m to JPY 900m over the three-month period. In this situation where sponsors withdraw their CMs and replace it with public service ads from AC Japan, they are still liable to pay for their CM contracts.
Source: Sanspo

- Jikei Hospital refused to respond to accusations about it making use of the drama to boost awareness about itself, saying that for the sake of their operations, they thought that it was best not to comment. However, they've compiled a document stating their stand towards this drama on their website. As this document is extremely long, I will only highlight the key points made by the hospital:
Source: Sanspo

Why did they release this document? - Jikei felt that their stand was not fully explained and made clear in the limited press coverage surrounding the issue and it was best for them to express their views as clearly as possible through their official website.

Why are they protesting against this drama? - The point of focus here is not the children living in ordinary families but rather those who are living in welfare homes now and had been subjected to physical and verbal abuse previously and receiving treatment now. Jikei felt that the scenes depicting the bullying and being called names by their friends jokingly can bring back unwelcome memories for these emotionally-scarred children. Although they already had their reservations way back in December before the drama went on air, they found that the first episode was largely unchanged and there were reports of children adversely affected by the drama's OA. Although the second episode was toned down a little, the hospital took offence with the fact that children were being called discriminatory names and treated like animals in a pet shop.

What was so wrong with the first episode?  - First of all, the nicknames given to the 5 main child characters in the drama were inappropriate and could lead to teasing of those living in welfare homes by their schoolmates. For example, the nickname Post was in reference to the character being abandoned by her parents at the baby post box at Jikei Hospital while Locker was meant as a reference to the character being dumped at a coin locker. Jikei had deliberately avoided using the word "Akachan Post" when they set up the Kounotori no Yurikago service to take care of babies abandoned by their parents and felt that there was no need to use such nicknames for the children in the drama although the scriptwriter may have wanted to use them for maximum impact on the viewers.
Secondly, the words said by the director of the welfare home were harsh and hurting to the pride of the children by describing them as animals in the pet shop which should practice how to cry. Jikei feared that the children in welfare homes would be hurt by such untrue portrayals of where they are living in and that this would give people the wrong impression about welfare homes.

Since this is fiction, why be so serious about this? - Fiction can only be determined if someone is able to tell the difference between fact and fiction. For most people, dramas talking about the police, schools, hospitals can be easily classified as fiction because they have first-hand experience dealing with such entities and the people within. However, the same can't be said for welfare homes in general. In addition, it is more difficult for children to differentiate between fact and fiction.

The crew and scriptwriter should have conducted more in-depth research? - Jikei cited the example of a TBS drama shown in 2013 about the Akachan Post facility at the hospital where they had spent lots of time talking to the crew and scriptwriter about the concept and thought that the other party had fully understood it. However, it turned out that there were some conflicts between both parties at one time as they tried to sought commonground while ironing out their differences. The biggest issue was the fact that Yakushimaru Hiroko who played the matron in the drama, tracked down the mother who abandoned the baby. Jikei does not do this and feared that the fear about losing anonymity would become an issue to those who want to use the Kounotori no Yurikago facility which then puts more abandoned babies in danger. From this episode, Jikei felt that more care should have been taken in the preparation stages to ensure that the correct facts are conveyed through such drama productions.

The impact on children in welfare homes - In many welfare homes, there is an increasing number of children staying there due to reasons of domestic abuse. As such, the drama should have exercised more caution in depicting scenes of abuse in order to avoid hurting their feelings further. There have been reports of children being affected by the drama in ways such as being concerned about the views of people around them and feeling uneasy about others knowing where they live in. Most of the reports of affected children are those in primary school and Jikei hopes that the impact would not spread further.

Aren't you over-reacting by asking for the termination of the drama? - Jikei stated that they knew and understood how much effort was put into the drama but the untruths in this drama had already caused an impact to the children and it would be too late to "wait-and-see" as the story unfolds over another 9 to 10 weeks. Besides, they have no idea how the story would develop and would rather not take the risk so that explains why they are asking for the immediate cancellation of the drama. Although children in the welfare homes may form the minority, it does not mean that we should disregard their feelings and that they should be protected first.

No plans for a lawsuit now - The hospital has no plans at the moment to sue for damage to their reputation surrounding the depiction of the Kounotori no Yurikago but feels that NTV owes an apology to the staff and children in welfare homes for the adverse effects brought upon them.

Are you doing this as a publicity stunt? - For a small hospital like Jikei, there is a huge risk in what we are doing now. It would have been better for us to keep quiet rather than make demands to the TV station. Besides, the whole episode makes Jikei appear as an aggressive party which is negative to our image. Last but not least, the Kounotori no Yurikago facility is a huge financial burden on the hospital so we would have been better off if we did not raise this issue. However, for the sake of babies in our care and those children who have to overcome their traumatic past to live on, Jikei feels the need to stand up for them.

What do you hope for from now on? - On 16 Jan (the day following the first OA), Jikei was informed by the media that the drama will consist of 10 episodes and two days later, informed that filming had already been completed up to episode 7. Fearing the worst impact on the children, Jikei decided to take action by asking for the cancellation of the drama. However, NTV stated on 27 Jan that they will continue with the drama which consists of 9 episodes and that filming was done up to Episode 4 and the script was written up to Episode 5. This leaves Jikei with no choice but to observe how things go from now on but they still hope that NTV will take the necessary precautions to adjust the content and avoid causing more emotional pain for the children. However, they hope that as the drama highlights the negative aspects and problems faced by those in welfare homes and children being raised by foster parents, it will help society as a whole to understand the situation better and improve it in time.


Free Stuff Finder said...

Would you know anything on "Hard Nut"? Anyway Nice Blog. Looking forward to more drama updates.

Chiaki said...

You can click on the "Hard Nut" tag on the right to find out more about this drama. ^__^