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March 2012

The Great East Japan Earthquake: Transition of Information Transmitted within the 72 Hours after the Quake

Analyzing TV Coverage of the Disaster by Three Tokyo-based Stations

Takanobu Tanaka / Yumiko Hara

After having presented the result of analyses on TV coverage within the 24 hours after the Great East Japan Earthquake in the December 2011 issue, the authors conducted the same type of analyses on the coverage within 72 hours after the quake, of which results are reported in this issue. This time, wider time slots were surveyed while the target of the analyses was narrowed down to NHK General TV, Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), and Fuji Television Network.

The authors examined what was reported by television in the complex disaster that afflicted a broad range of areas as well as information of which areas was reported. The analysis show that the most reported information within the first 24 hours after the quake was that on “tsunami,” which gradually became less covered, and the “nuclear power plant accident” became the most-reported between 24 and 48 hours after the quake. Images and sounds aired by NHK GTV were used in analyzing reported areas. In terms of images, Miyagi Prefecture was most covered, which became less reported as time advanced, replaced by images of Tokyo and the Tokyo metropolitan area. Then, more images of Fukushima Prefecture, where the nuclear plant exists, appeared on TV between 24 and 48 hours. As to sounds, Fukushima revealed to be the most-reported area within the 72 hours after the quake, followed by Miyagi and Tokyo/metropolitan area.

The quantitative transition of nuclear-accident reports shows that NHK GTV, NTV, and Fuji TV increased, and decreased, the accident reports almost at the same. This is likely due to the limited information, such as press conference announcements, on which reporters had to depend in order to report the situation.

How television reported the “information on daily needs” for the quake/tsunami survivors and the “information on survivors and rescue activities” that was reported from the afflicted areas? Among “information on daily needs,” “traffic information” was most reported, followed by “information on blackouts (excluding the planned blackouts in the Tokyo metropolitan area) and “information on water and gas.” Relatively speaking, NHK GTV reported more “information on daily needs” than NTV and Fiji TV did, but, in general, such information was limited. As to “information on survivors,” each station covered “conditions of evacuation centers and afflicted people” on a number of occasions. However, “how survivors were rescued” were relatively less reported by NHK while Fuji TV covered them as much as “conditions of evacuation centers and afflicted people.”
Other than the above, this latest analysis of TV coverage also looks into detailed information on reported areas with breakdown by municipality, how the damage situation was grasped, and how press conferences on the nuclear accident was covered, along with the characteristics of speakers.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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