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About 747,000 households had refused to pay subscription fees to the embezzlement scandal-tainted public broadcaster NHK as of the end of March, up from 560,000 the previous month, its president said.

In mid-March, NHK had forecast the number of nonpaying households at the end of fiscal 2004 to be no higher than 700,000.

NHK President Genichi Hashimoto told reporters Thursday that the broadcaster would try to persuade nonpaying households to change their minds.

“We will slash material procurement costs while outsourcing part of our business to other companies” to make up for the fall in revenues from fees, Hashimoto said.

But NHK marketing officer Ryosuke Kobayashi claimed the number of new refusals has stopped rising since March and new viewing contracts have been recovering since April 1.

“The overall situation surrounding viewing fees has taken a turn for the better,” Kobayashi said.

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