FUJI TV CANCELLATION PRESS CONFERENCE
06/13/2006

Nobuyuki Sakakibara, CEO of Dream Stage Entertainment, held a press conference on June 8th at the Tokyo Prince Hotel in front of 250 members of the press and 600 fans to address FUJI TV's cancellation of their PRIDE broadcasts.

Nobuyuki Sakakibara, CEO of Dream Stage Entertainment, held a press conference on June 8th at the Tokyo Prince Hotel in front of 250 members of the press and 600 fans to address FUJI TV's cancellation of their PRIDE broadcasts.

Nobuyuki Sakakibara: As the various news outlets have already reported on this, using the shocking phrase that FUJI TV will cancel their PRIDE broadcasts, I'm sure that right now, everyone wants to know what happened and what will happen to PRIDE in the future. I would like to give you as much information as possible. However, some of this is delicate so please forgive me if I have to refer back to my documents occasionally.
First, regarding FUJI TV's broadcast cancellation, FUJI TV's production staff where present at the BUSHIDO event DSE held on June 4th and they rated it very highly and said that it had moved them. On June 5th, we fulfilled a long-held dream by opening the PRIDE Dojo and we held the opening ceremony alongside representatives from FUJI TV's Sports Department, with whom we've had a long relationship.
Following the Dojo opening, at around 4pm, I was to meet with someone from FUJI TV's Sports Department regarding a different issue. At 4pm, when I was told that someone from FUJI TV had arrived, I went to the meeting room and I was surprised to find FUJI TV's attorney and the Chief of their Compliance Department, and not the man that I was supposed to be having a meeting with. The presented me with a written notice of FUJI TV's cancellation of the PRIDE broadcast. They asked me to verify the contents of the notice and said that they wanted to immediately release the news of the contract cancellation to the public.
I explained to them that the fans have always supported us and of course, I would like to explain the situation to the fans, fighters, affiliates and sponsors beforehand. I said that I would like for them to postpone the press release and that I would also like to consult with our own attorney. They left but approximately one hour later, they issued a press release. It was a sudden, one-sided notification that caught us completely by surprise. In fact, we were in the middle of discussions with them about broadcasting PRIDE during prime time when we received the notice.
Even if there had been a legitimate reason for canceling the contract, I would have liked to tell the fans beforehand but we received a one-sided notice which was subsequently released to the world one hour later. To be honest, we weren't able to respond at all.
So, why was the contract cancelled? Although there are some secrecy agreements and confidential issues that I cannot address, FUJI TV's claim was that "DSE had neglected to maintain, and give consideration to, FUJI TV'S credibility, dignity and image." However, I don't know of anything we have done that could have done that.
A few mass media outlets, though, beginning with "Shukan Gendai", have written fabricated articles accusing DSE of being involved with antisocial elements and I believe it was these articles which damaged FUJI TV's credibility, dignity and image. The articles are completely false and I believe that any damages to credibility, dignity and image are losses caused by this fabrication. We cannot accept that the contract was cancelled as a result of fabricated articles claiming that we are heavily involved with antisocial elements. Now our respective lawyers are discussing this matter and we will decide on how to proceed after we have considered every possibility.
However, I don't feel hatred toward the FUJI TV staff that helped raise PRIDE. I haven't spoken to their on-site staff yet. Considering that FUJI TV is in a public position, I understand that they could not ignore the accusations, even if they were baseless. We are victims, of course, but I think that FUJI TV may also be a victim.
On April 17th, we filed a complaint against the editor and publisher of "Shukan Gendai" and Seiya Kawamata but now will we also consider compensation for our losses against them due to the cancellation of the contract with FUJI TV.
We have never associated with antisocial elements, in the past or the present, nor will we do so in the future. Neither have we broken any laws, nor committed any crimes. There is no truth to the accusations that we were, or are, the targets of a compulsory investigation. There is no truth to the accusations that arrest warrants have been issued for any of us. Some people are saying that Sakakibara is going to be arrested but I will use this opportunity to declare that this is not true. If I had broken any laws, I would voluntarily resign my position.
We will continue to hold discussions with FUJI TV through our attorneys. I believe this was just a misunderstanding or a case of the wrong buttons being pushed. We, as a small, weak company, are in a different position than FUJI TV but still, we would like to continue discussions and I think it would be wonderful if we were able to work with FUJI TV again.
Regarding the news reports, I'm sure the fans and affiliates are worried about whether PRIDE is going to collapse or not. PRIDE will not collapse because of something like this. As a promotion tool, reaching ordinary fans through terrestrial broadcasts has a great effect but we would rather focus on the fans that come out to the venue to enjoy the live events and as long as these fans speak out and support us, PRIDE will not collapse.
PRIDE began on pay-per-view broadcasts and as long as we provide contents that people want to see, we will be fine. We have not been creating something to be compressed onto a TV screen and enjoyed to ordinary people. Our focus has been on creating something that would draw fans to watch it live, to make them want to watch it live, even if they have to pay for it. I cannot deny that this will reduce our exposure but DSE will still function as a business. If we have the support of, and expectations from, the fans, PRIDE will continue to exist. It is very painful to have my name and picture printed in "Shukan Gendai" and to be written about as if I were a criminal. However, I will still devote my life to the protection of PRIDE, so I ask for your support.
Each day, and well into the night, we receive many phone calls from fans, worried about whether PRIDE will go out of business. Some enthusiastic fans even came to our office to encourage us. Since this is a state of emergency, FUJI TV cut their contents and discontinued a show, but our business is creating martial arts competitions and so the staff at DSE will continue to work non-stop.
There are many areas in which our preparation was insufficient and in which we were not able to fully respond but we will continue to work with the fighters to create the greatest stage in the world. As such, we ask for the support of the fans and the media.

As the press conference was ending, a voice was heard, believed to be that of a female fan, asking, "Mr. Sakakibara, have you really not threatened anyone? Is everything going to be okay?" Sakakibara turned toward the voice and replied, "Everything is fine. I haven't threatened anyone."

Following the press conference, Sakakibara and DSE attorney Yoshinori Tani spoke with reporters.
Sakakibara declared that even if the fees for terrestrial broadcast rights were lost, PRIDE was still in no danger of extinction, "The cancellation of the terrestrial broadcast is a serious wound. However, the most important things as we operate in the future will be ticket revenues, PPV revenues, sponsors, merchandising, etc., so the loss of the fees for terrestrial broadcast rights is not something that will affect us at our foundation. Last year, fees for terrestrial broadcast rights accounted for approximately 10~15% of our overall profits but the world-wide rights fees, in Korea, Europe, Brazil, etc., continue to grow."
Asked whether DSE is considering an alternative station for terrestrial PRIDE broadcasts, Sakakibara replied, "We are considering it but as far as I'm concerned, we've always worked with FUJI TV and we built PRIDE together, so I hope to be able to shake hands with FUJI TV once again."
Yoshinori Tani expanded on one objection to the Shukan Gendai article, "Sakakibara did speak with the police but it was as a witness and was not put on record."