Japan talent agency warned by regulator over ex-SMAP members
Kyodo -- Jul 18
Johnny and Associates Inc., one of the most powerful talent agencies in Japan, is suspected of having pressured commercial broadcasting television stations to stop inviting three former members of popular boy band SMAP on their shows after they left the office in 2017, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Japan's antitrust watchdog has warned that the agency might be in violation of the antimonopoly law, the sources said.

It is apparently the first case of a talent agency receiving a warning from the Fair Trading Commission based on the law in connection with artists changing their agents.

In a statement on its website, the agency denied it had used any pressure tactics but admitted it was investigated by the commission.

"It is untrue that our company applied any pressure on a TV station and that we received administrative measures or warnings from the Fair Trading Commission for violating the antimonopoly law," it said. "However, we take seriously that we have been investigated by the commission and we would like to pay attention (to our conduct) in order to prevent any misunderstandings."

News source: Kyodo
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