Japan plans to start 4K high-definition broadcasting by 2018

Kyodo, JIJI

The government said it plans to start 4K and 8K ultra-high-definition broadcasting on BS channels by 2018 in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said the government will begin test broadcasting in 2016, when Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Olympics, and upgrade it to full-scale broadcasting as soon as possible to build popularity at home before the 2020 Games.

The ministry unveiled the plan at a meeting Friday of broadcast industry officials and experts.

The trial start of 4K broadcasting on BS channels will be brought forward by four years from the initially planned 2020. The full start will be in 2018, when the soccer World Cup will be held in Russia.

Amid intensifying international competition over 4K broadcasting, the government hopes to take the lead and back up technological development and software production by Japanese businesses.

The communications ministry included ¥1.7 billion in its budget request for fiscal 2015 starting next April to cover costs for related measures, such as the development of a new image transmission technology.

The ministry is considering test broadcasting 4K and 8K images alternately, according to the day and time, on up to three and one channels, respectively.

The ministry will terminate next March tentative measures to air terrestrial digital broadcasting programs on BS channels for areas where it is difficult to watch them and instead use their wave bands.

In June, Japan launched the world’s first test 4K broadcasts, using communications satellite TV channels of Sky Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc.

Participants at Friday’s meeting also confirmed that full 4K broadcasts using the company’s CS channels will begin in March 2015, one year earlier than initially planned.