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Sunday, Sept. 14, 2003

Channel surf

The commercial TV networks are between seasons, so for the next few weeks schedules will be filled with special programs. Since Sept. 17 is the one-year anniversary of the meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, NHK and every commercial station will air in-depth documentaries about the Japanese abductees.

These specials will simply rehash everything the media has presented about the abductees for the past year, but TV Asahi says it will present some new information on its special, which will be aired Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.

There will also be a lot of specials about the royal family, but, again, Asahi beats the competition with three consecutive nights of a report on "Princess Aiko's First 650 Days," Sept. 16-18 at 7 p.m.

September also marks the second anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, which supposedly affected the way the media now present the news.

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is now being promoted as the central pillar of the "War on Terror" that started in Afghanistan. On Sept. 14, NHK will present a two-hour investigation into the media's coverage named the "War on Terror" (NHK BS1, 10 p.m.).

The invasion of Iraq received an incredible amount of TV media coverage throughout the world. Among the issues the program covers is: how to ensure the objectivity of journalists who were embedded with U.S. troops; how to address the agenda the U.S. military devised to take advantage of the media; and how to cover victims of war. In particular, there has been a lot of controversy over the images of POWs and dead bodies. Last but not least, how can media organizations and the military ensure the safety of journalists?

The program will feature documentary footage and interviews with prominent international broadcast journalists, including Ted Koppel of America's ABC network, John Simpson of the BBC, who has covered more than 30 wars, and Said L. Shuri, the chief editor of the Arabic-language news network, Al-Jazeera.

Celebrities get their comeuppance on "All-Star no Minna-sama ni Geinokai no Kibishisa Oshiemasu (The Stars Tell You About the Toughness of Show Business)"; Nippon TV, Monday, 9 p.m.), a two-hour variety special in which celebrities find out just how popular they are. The big problem for most Japanese TV personalities is maintaining their name value in an environment that doesn't necessarily reward talent or even individuality.

With the celebs sweating in the studio, reporters hit the streets and ask people about what celebrities they like, who they don't like, and even who they would prefer having sex with. They even interview the celebrities about other celebrities. The singing group Morning Musume are asked to choose between two nearly washed-up actors as a partner for a travel special.

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