National

PerfecTV, JSkyB merge to form new digital broadcaster

PerfecTV Corp. and Japan Broadcasting Co. (JSkyB) merged into a new company May 1 called Japan Digital Broadcasting Services Inc., for operation of a new service called SKY PerfecTV!

The new television broadcaster will offer as many as 171 channels through a digital satellite service.

The merger is likely to create a tough situation for DirecTV Japan Inc., a digital satellite broadcasting company that began service in December. DirecTV offers 88 channels. “I’ve always said that it is ideal to have two companies in the industry to compete with each other and to grow stronger,” Koya Mita, president of the new company said.

But the executives of the new company also pointed out that many of the programs that DirecTV offers are the same programs that PerfecTV has been offering, and that whether they can offer unique programs will determine who the winner is in this industry.

PerfecTV had 672,000 subscribers as of the end of April, but after merging with JSkyB, the new firm, backed by Itochu Corp., Sony Corp., Softbank Corp., The News Corporation Limited, and Fuji Television Network, Inc., is aiming at obtaining 2 million subscribers by the end of the the 1999 business year.

Because PerfecTV and JSkyB use different satellites, subscribers will need to purchase a new receiver that is compatible with both to view all of the programs, according to the company. To encourage transition to the new receiver, the company will discount its subscription fee for existing PerfecTV subscribers who have already bought new boxes for the new service until December 1998.

A one-time fee of 2,800 yen is required to join, and monthly fees for basic service start at 290 yen. Additional fees will be charged according to the type and number of programs a viewer chooses to contract.