The communications ministry said Wednesday it has received applications from four companies for approval to launch digital high-definition TV broadcasting services via satellite.

The applicants are trading house Mitsui & Co., Nippon BS Broadcasting Corp., which is a BS digital data broadcaster affiliated with discount appliance store chain Bic Camera Co., movie channel operator Star Channel Inc., and World Independent Networks Japan Inc., a provider of music programs.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry plans to allow the creation of two new stations for digital HDTV services in fiscal 2007.

The ministry, which stopped taking applications Tuesday, will examine the four companies’ financial standings and other factors in choosing two successful applicants by the end of the year.

Mitsui plans to set up a wholly owned subsidiary to offer Walt Disney animated, music, drama and teleshopping programs beginning in December 2007.

The new entrants will use a frequency band to be vacated by the discontinuation of BS analog HDTV services of public broadcaster NHK.

The number of households with access to BS digital HDTV services topped 10 million at the end of August, arousing expectations that the service will become an attractive medium for advertisers.

But existing BS digital HDTV broadcasters are struggling with low viewer ratings in the face of competition with rival services, including digital broadcasts via satellite and Internet-based broadcasts.

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