There are no immediate correlations between the brewing and broadcasting industries (MIP expense reports aside), but Shigeo Fukuchi can name one. Since stepping in as president of NHK earlier this year, bringing with him over 50 years of experience at Asahi Breweries, Fukuchi says every business is about providing something for which the public will compensate you, and is therefore customer-centric.
In the case of NHK, of course, those ‘customers’ are viewers and listeners. And Fukuchi certainly felt their expectations when he took over for Genichi Hashimoto, who stepped down when his three-year term expired in late January. Fukuchi has no qualms addressing the elephant in the corner: the financial scandals that he says undermined viewer trust in NHK three years ago. ‘To win that trust back, I’ll do whatever it takes to ingrain into the organization a culture of ethical practices and regulatory compliance.’ To ensure NHK employees understand the significance – or ‘weight,’ as he puts it – of the receiving fees, Fukuchi plans to have all employees go out and see firsthand what receiving fee collection work entails as part of their training. He has also restructured NHK’s internal control systems. ‘Instilling a compliance culture is just the starting point,’ he says. ‘On that foundation we will build viewer trust by providing impartial and accurate information, and producing high-quality programming. That’s vital.’
Fukuchi cites the quality of NHK’s programming as the organization’s greatest strength, noting specifically the in-depth research and reportage used in NHK Specials and other docs. ‘These are among the crown jewels of our programming,’ he says. As such, Fukuchi intends to ‘avoid any counter-productive cost-cutting’ in NHK’s program creation moving forward.
Looking ahead, Fukuchi also shares some HD-related plans. With 90% of NHK programming currently produced in HD, Fukuchi says the broadcaster is also conducting R&D on Super Hi-Vision, a form of Ultra High Definition TV. ‘It’s a next-generation format with 16 times the resolution of HDTV,’ he says.
Enviable technological advances aside, NHK has bragging rights in several other areas. ‘The organization has all the people, infrastructure, money, information and technical capabilities it could ever need,’ says Fukuchi. On the other hand, he feels there’s also ‘an excessive ‘turf’ mentality’ – something he views as a weakness. ‘If we can get everyone pulling together towards shared goals for the organization, then that will generate tremendous power,’ he says. ‘And as head of the organization, that is exactly the job I am here to do.’