Skytree’s first anniversary marred by foul signals

by Hiroko Nakata

Staff Writer

Tokyo Skytree will celebrate its first anniversary Wednesday but has not yet completed its prime mission of reliably broadcasting to households in the capital and its suburbs.

Since December, the world’s tallest free-standing tower, at 634 meters high, has been making test broadcasts to check on its TV signals, but the number of households calling it to complain about interference has topped 110,000.

There are about 15 million households in metropolitan Tokyo and Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures, receiving broadcasts from Tokyo Tower, broadcasters say.

One of Skytree’s main purposes is to broadcast clear TV signals without interference from the multitude of skyscrapers in central Tokyo, replacing the now-obsolete analog signals that used to be provided by 333-meter-tall Tokyo Tower, which opened in 1958.

Tokyo Tower is not tall enough for digital terrestrial broadcasting because of the continuing emergence of high-rise buildings.

NHK and five private broadcasters plan to fix the problems by the end of the month by telling households to change the orientation of their antennas or to adjust their boosters, said Akira Yoshizawa, head of NHK’s media planning bureau, who is in charge of interference problems.

The broadcasters started conducting one-minute tests last December, but that was gradually extended to five minutes on weekdays and even longer periods at the weekend.

6.34 million observers

kyodo

The number of visitors to the observation deck of Tokyo Skytree reached 6.34 million Monday, matching the numerals of its height two days before its first anniversary, Tobu Tower Skytree Co., the tower’s operator, said.

The 6,340,000th visitor was among a family of four from Chiba Prefecture who arrived shortly after 10 a.m. Hiroshi Komine, 45, his wife, Naomi, 45, their daughter, Arisa, 9, and son, Seiya, 5, were presented with a model of the tower.