Saturday, March 04, 2006

NHK to have dedicated International English TV service to promote Japanese interests worldwide?

March 3

Tokyo: Public broadcaster, NHK the Japan Broadcasting Corporation is being forced into re-inventing itself following embezzlement scandals and a revolt by the license fee paying public among other things.

On March 1, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instructed Heizo Takenaka, minister of internal affairs and communications, to set to and make things happen.

Koizumi said there are too many NHK channels (presumably referring to both the satellite as well as terrestrial).

Press reports out of Tokyo, say that the Japanese Government is using the idea of an English TV channel to match CNN or similar as an international voice.

The position is aggravated by the fact China has a worldwide satellite network in CCTV-9 and is now talking of an Arab language network. Fellow neighbour, Korea through its Arirang TV Network already has a dedicated Arab service to the Middle East as well as a popular worldwide English/Korean language station that reflects modern and traditional culture.

Moves like these by Japan's neighbours show just how insular is the political mainstream thinking in Tokyo.

But times are changing.

The current worldwide satellite offerings of NHK - NHK World TV and NHK World Premium aimed at the Japanese Diaspora have not proved as popular as first thought. As part of the internal re-organisation of NHK currently being proposed, NHK says it will turn its World TV into a solely English outlet within a three year time frame.

NHK President Genichi Hashimoto said international broadcasting services would best be financed with viewer fees.

Financing is a sensitive issue at advertising-free, NHK. Various funding options are under consideration. There is a good chance that specific funding would come from central government along the lines the BBC World Service radio is funded as part of the UK's foreign policy.

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