Japan cuts licence fee

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK is cutting its annual licence fee by 120 Yen (about $1.60) a month. This is the first such cut since 1968 when the nation’s radio licence was terminated. The monthly fee is currently 1345 Yen (about $17.74). Viewers who want the additional free-to-air satellite services pay an extra 945 Yen ($12.40).

The reduction came with an apology from NHK’s chairman Fumio Sudo, saying that the broadcaster’s Board had failed to live up to a previous commitment to cut the fee even further. The past few years have seen considerable numbers of Japanese refusing to pay the fee, complaining over wrongdoing at the broadcaster.  NHK’s previous three-year plan, according to BBC Monitoring, promised a cut equal to 10 percent of the annual fee, but these current cuts represent a 7 percent reduction.

NHK’s fee revenue hit an all-time high of 659.8 billion Yen in fiscal 2010, which ended in March, as a result of a rise in viewer contracts and enhanced measures to clamp down on those with missing payments. Households and businesses with TVs enabled to receive NHK programmes are required to sign subscription contracts under law.

NHK’s new three-year business plan through fiscal 2014 projects that the fee cut would still allow the broadcaster to break even in fiscal 2012 from next April. It would leave it 4.7 billion yen in the red in fiscal 2013 and 1 billion yen in the black in fiscal 2014.

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