NTV president talks about the dawn of digital broadcasting

Nippon Television Network Corp. is gearing up for the era of terrestrial digital broadcasting, to begin in Japan in 2003, its president said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

“Terrestrial digital broadcasting will definitely become the mainstream of TV broadcasting with its attractiveness as a medium and the high-quality services and programs that are becoming available,” Toshio Hagiwara said.

The medium offers enhanced image quality, interactive services and multichannel broadcasting.

Japan plans to convert its terrestrial broadcasting system from analog to digital beginning next year in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

Nippon TV will mark its 50th anniversary in 2003. The broadcaster will also move its headquarters to the redeveloped Shiodome district in Minato Ward, Tokyo, to open a new chapter in its operations.

Believing terrestrial digital broadcasting will usher in a new era in television, Hagiwara indicated that Nippon TV will be ready to help affiliated regional broadcasters with the transition.

“Many regional broadcasters are having management problems amid the depressed economy,” so the cost of switching from analog to digital may be heavy for them, Hagiwara said.

Asked about the business outlook for digital broadcasting through broadcast and communications satellites, Hagiwara was downbeat about the former but upbeat on the latter.

“One feature of BS digital broadcasting is that it can offer uniform services to audiences nationwide. But it may run counter to the present need for more information specific to local areas,” he said.

CS digital broadcasting, on the other hand, has “fancy footwork,” he added, suggesting there is more room for new services.

BS broadcasting services were digitized in 2000, and CS services in 1996. Both are subscription services.

Public broadcaster NHK and WOWOW Inc., established by a group of commercial TV stations, offer BS services. Sky Perfect Communications Inc., which operates the Sky PerfecTV satellite digital broadcasting services, makes use of CS broadcasting.

Hagiwara also said Nippon TV aims to attract a younger audience because many advertisers target young consumers. It will also work hard to create high-quality programs for various media, including the Internet, he said.