2013 New Year's Address by President Toshichika Ishihara

January 04, 2013

At the New Year celebration held at TBS on January 4, 2013, President Toshichika Ishihara gave the following address:

Happy New Year, everyone! First I would like to thank all the TBS employees who gave up their days off to work on our year-end and New Year special programs and events. Thanks to everyone's hard work, we were third in ratings among private broadcasters during both golden time and prime time in the five-day holiday period, improving significantly upon last year's results. Record Awards, Sports Extravaganza, and New Year Ekiden logged particularly high ratings. Moreover, in terms of both content and ratings, our 9.5-hour news documentary special turned in impressive results. The talk show Arita & Matsuko and other programs have graduated from their late night-time slots and are showing great promise for the future. The yearly average rating for HIRUOBI! was the highest among afternoon programs airing several times a week in the same time slot. It is our first achievement of this type since we began tracking such data in April 1988. With this success as a starting point, I'd like see us make great progress in 2013. The end of 2012 saw important developments, including a general election that resulted in a change in administration. The new government's monetary easing and fiscal stimulus policies have resulted in higher stock prices and a weaker yen, but whether the economy will actually strengthen will depend largely on the performance of the US economy and Japan's relationships with China and Korea. We need to keep a close watch on these and other factors going forward.

The broadcasting industry in Japan and the environment in which we operate continue to undergo major change. Companies are moving their bases overseas, Japan's birthrate is low and its population is aging rapidly, and people are using an increasingly diverse array of digital devices. Needless to say, our biggest challenge at TBS is the reforming of our broadcasting business.

Last year, in addition to establishing the Reforming task force, we asked all of our division leaders to define the problems and challenges they faced as well as potential solutions. We made strengthening our content our top priority, and now the Corporate Strategy Division is leading the way in formulating an action plan. Last autumn, the Reforming task force began holding interim report meetings at each of our workplaces. Based on the opinions and ideas collected in this process, we're currently considering how best to strengthen our programming. We have asked our stations to implement whatever measures they can to improve the situation immediately. We are also addressing challenges that affect our organization as a whole, and we are working on strengthening our content and examining our workflow point by point with a view to raising efficiency. We are in the process of formulating several action plans, details of which I hope to announce in the near future. Reforming and implementing strong action plans, we are determined to make great progress in 2013.

When TBS began broadcasting 58 years ago, then-President Tadashi Adachi said, "It isn't enough just to entertain people. It's essential that we create high-quality programs that reflect social trends. Instead of trying to be the biggest company we can be, I want us to be the best company we can be." This founding spirit has been passed down through the generations at TBS. Broadcast media have a great influence on every citizen, influencing the form society takes and the development of character in children. Mr. Adachi understood what a great responsibility we have, and he was expressing his pride as a broadcasting professional in fulfilling it. Reflected his ideals in our programs has helped us earn a reputation for excellence among private broadcasters while maintaining the high standing in the industry we have earned over the decades.

Last year, I sent a memo to all employees in which I called upon our company to become the broadcaster with the greatest sense of responsibility for Japan's future. Ever since the economic bubble burst in Japan, the economic climate has continued to pose challenges. In such an environment, it is crucial for us to remember how we got to where we are, and to continue to create programs that differentiate us from other broadcasters and earn ever deeper trust and support from our viewers.

Now TBS has begun the J Project, aiming at the creation of one high-quality, large-scale non-fiction television special per month starting in April. These specials will focus on the future of Japan, and they will feature content that the entire family can watch and consider together. We are asking every employee in the TBS group, as well as each of our JNN members and production companies, to participate in the J Project, and my expectations for it are extremely high. I am also greatly looking forward to several major new dramas we have in the works that I trust will carry on the proud TBS drama tradition. Understanding the times in which we live and creating programs that resonate with our viewers is the surest path to a recovery in ratings.

In 2012, we completed the conversion of our terrestrial broadcasts to digital. However, the rapid increase in smart phone use is changing not only people's lifestyles but also the very structure of the media industry. The TBS Group has been proactive in addressing these changes, and we have continued to develop our overseas business, but we need new strategies to respond more rapidly and flexibly. Having created superior content, in order to maximize its value we need to leverage every medium, including terrestrial broadcasting, satellite broadcasting, radio, Internet, and mobile devices. It is essential that we make our content available via as many media as possible. Let's make an all-TBS effort to begin a new era for our Group.

This is the year of the snake. The Chinese character for this year's zodiac animal is said to represent pictorially the child in the womb. The character thus signifies birth and new beginnings, making 2013 the ideal year in which to begin our revolutionary changes. Let us all strive together to make this year as fruitful as possible. I'd like to wish all of our employees good health in the new year, and all companies in the TBS Group increased growth and success.