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Japan media watchdog cautions TV shows using pain for laughs

A Japanese media watchdog has urged producers of TV variety shows to be more cautious about the content of their programmes so they won’t encourage bullying, NHK reports.

The Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO) announced its recommendations on variety shows that make performers feel physical or psychological pain to draw laughter from the rest of the cast and viewers.

The BPO’s youth committee had been discussing such shows since August last year in response to complaints from viewers that they could encourage bullying.

The committee says young people who watch the shows could imitate them and that could lead to bullying.

It also says seeing performers laugh at others’ pain could make young people avoid intervening in cases of bullying.

The committee argues that the latest scientific findings suggest such scenes could have a negative impact on young people in development of empathy, as well as in the way they view people around them.

Back in 2007, the committee called on TV producers to reconsider violent or sexual directions for performers in variety shows.