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Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

Nihon TV's "News Zero," NHK's "Document 72 Hours" and more

Traditionally, Nihon TV has opted out of the nightly news competition. Whereas TBS, TV Asahi and Fuji TV present hourlong, in-depth news shows, Nihon TV settled for a half-hour bulletin-style report called "Kyo no Dekigoto (Today's Happenings)."

However, on Monday, the network jumps into the race with both feet. "News Zero" (Monday to Friday, 10:54 p.m.) is being touted by the media in general as a challenge to the most popular 11 p.m. news show, TBS's "News 23" with veteran journalist Tetsuya Chikushi.

The anchorman of the new hourlong program will be 50-year-old Nobutaka Murao, who is not a journalist. In fact, he doesn't even have experience as a TV announcer. He was a high-ranking bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance when it was still referred to as the Okura-sho. Murao's main claim to fame was taking on Liberal Democratic Party stalwart Muneo Suzuki, accusing him of misappropriating funds. Later, Murao quit the ministry to run for governor of his home prefecture of Mie, but lost. Since then he's been a lecturer at Kansai Gakuin University.

On Tuesday, NHK will premiere an unusual new series called "Document 72 Hours" (NHK-G, 11 p.m.), which takes a simple, old premise and makes it new.

Normally, producers of documentaries have an idea of what they want before they film and plan their shooting accordingly. In this new series, however, the producers assume nothing. Instead, they set up cameras in selected locations that are related in some way and turn them on for 72 hours, capturing everything that goes on. Later, they edit the footage down to 30 minutes.

The subject of the inaugural program is a fireworks exhibition that took place at Jingu Gaien in the heart of Tokyo last August. The footage shows everything from the preparation of the display to the actual exhibition. In between, the cameras capture the everyday life of the area.

The worldwide popularity of the "CSI" crime investigation drama series has sparked interest in the rarefied world of police forensics. On Saturday at 9 p.m., TV Asahi will present a mystery special, "Forensics Classroom File 23," that attempts to show how the Japanese do it.

An explosion on a city bus causes horrific death and injury, and police forensics expert Saki (Yuko Natori) and detective Kazuma (Shin Takuma) are sent to investigate. One of the passengers on the bus was a city prosecutor who says the explosion came from the center part of the vehicle. Saki discovers remnants of what looks like a remote-control device, leading her to suspect that the explosion was caused by a bomb. But then they discover that one of the dead bodies was already dead before the explosion.



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