Japan to delay analogue switch-off

Japan’s communications ministry has said it will delay a complete shift to digital terrestrial television broadcasts in the three prefectures most severely stricken by the March 11 quake and ensuing tsunami by up to one year from the initially planned July 24. The tsunami swept away numerous facilities for receiving such broadcasts in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures and the government-led campaign for the shift has halted, said Hideo Hiraoka, senior vice minister for internal affairs and communications.

Concern has been growing in the quake-hit areas that a complete shift from analogue broadcasting would strip evacuees and others of a major means to receive vital information related to the disaster such as aftershocks. The decision is a major change for the ministry, which had been seeking to complete the shift to digital TV on July 24, and had planned for up to 200,000 volunteers to encourage people without terrestrial digital receivers and other relevant equipment to introduce them in their homes.

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