The Posts Ministry and a group of supporters of the analog-based high-definition TV system, led by NHK, are nearing final talks on whether the next-generation BS-4 satellite should be analog or digital.

The ministry is to seek recommendations late next month from the Radio Regulatory Council, an advisory panel to the telecommunications minister. The ministry originally planned to use the BS-4 satellite, to be launched around 2000, for analog-based broadcasting on four channels, like its predecessor to be launched this spring.

It is the rapid spread of digital technology as well as the the advent of multichannel digital satellite broadcasting services which has brought the ministry to delay its decision on the format. The ministry’s move was widely viewed as a solid sign that the digital format would be favored. All attention will now be shifted to the problem of handling the MUSE decoders that receive analog-based satellite broadcasts of Hi-Vision, the Japanese HDTV format.

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