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Japanese TV households will be fully UHD by 2025, according to Masayuki Suga, Deputy Director, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Delivering a Keynote address on ‘Japan’s Road Map for 4K Ultra HD and Beyond’ at MIPTV’s Sony 4K Ultra HD Theatre, Suga told delegates that in 2012, a study group had been on the advancement of broadcasting services, leading to the creation of the Road Map in 2013. “In Japan, public and private sectors are working together to promote 4K and 8K. We have formulated the Road Map as a common goal for the stakeholders such as broadcasters and equipment manufacturers and government.”
Follow-up meetings held by the Ministry had seen two revisions to the Road Map, with the latest version setting 2020 as the target year for the promotion of 4K and 8K as Japan will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games that year. “We hope the enthusiasm for the Olympics and Paralympics will be shared nationwide through 4K and 8K broadcasting.”
Towards that 2020 target, the Ministry had planned a number of steps, such as in test broadcasts of 4K in 2014 via cable, satellite and IPTV, with full broadcasts the following year. “In 2016 there were test broadcasts via a major satellite which is widely spread, with a large number of viewers,” he advised, adding that 2018 would see a full service available. “So far, 4K and 8K promotion has progressed in accordance with the Road Map,” he added.
Suggesting that this was this represented a major progress since the last MIPTV, Suga reported that in January 2016, 19 channels, operated by 11 broadcasters, had been licensed to commence commercial broadcasting in 4K from December 2018. “Free-to-air channels will be offered. The launch of full broadcasts will be a big step towards our goal in 2020.”
He said that promotion of 4K and 8K was recognised as one of the most important topics for Japanese economic growth. “So, the promotion was incorporated into the national growth plan called the Japan Revitalisation Strategy. In that strategy, it is stated that approximately 50 per cent of households in Japan will watch through 4K and 8K in 2020. The government will promote 4K and 8K by starting broadcasts by satellite in 2018. The penetration rate was set as a target, with 100 per cent in 2025.”
He said that to reach the 2020 target, the Ministry was focusing on raising awareness among people. “The start of full commercial satellite broadcasting in December next year will enhance the spread of the 4K system,” he predicted, adding that before that, viewers needed to be provided with comprehensive information on 4K and 8K to avoid confusion. One of the concerns is that viewers may need to purchase new equipment in order to enjoy 4K services, such as monitors, tuners and antenna, set-top box.
Accordingly, the Ministry was planning to set up a forum involving broadcasters, manufacturers and retailers to share information and discuss the awareness strategy.