Advanced Television

NHK looks to scrap online cost limits

September 17, 2020

By Chris Forrester

Japan’s NHK public broadcaster says it wants to scrap the 2.5 per cent limit of viewer fees which it spends on simultaneous online broadcasts.

NHK says it will work to keep costs down but its rival broadcasters in Japan are anxious that without a formal maximum limit to keep NHK in check then spending on online activity could rise.

Currently, NHK spends about $161 million annually (equal to 2.4 per cent of its overall budget) on online activity. This year NHK also enjoyed an additional budget to handle Olympic Games activity taking the overall total to 2.7 per cent or $179 million. Add in a provision for the Tokyo Paralympic events and the spend rises $184 million. These sums – equal to 2.94 per cent of its overall viewer fees – are already budgeted for 2021 because of the delayed Olympics.

NHK’s suggestion will be subject to public commentary as well as vetting by Japan’s Internal Affairs & Communications Ministry for approval.

NHK Executive Board’s Executive Director Chihiro Matsuzaka, who announced the proposal, told journalists: “We thought it was important to thoroughly evaluate our online operations within all of NHK’s operations, and to show the necessary amount of money (and not the proportion of viewer fees).”

He also stressed that costs will be kept down, and added, “We would also like to provide careful explanations to commercial broadcasters.”

This statement did not mollify its commercial rivals. Japan’s Commercial Broadcasters Association is arguing that the 2.5 per cent limit must be maintained.

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