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NHK is finalizing plans to chop its workforce by about 1,200 over a three-year period beginning in fiscal 2006, and may take legal action against viewers who fail to pay their fees, sources said Friday.

NHK is pondering these measures amid a higher-than-expected rise in the number of viewers refusing to pay the fees in question.

The cuts will be the largest since the public broadcaster was established in 1926, and will comprise roughly 10 percent of NHK’s total workforce, roughly 11,700 employees as of March 31.

NHK is not expected to conduct selective firing as it plans to achieve the cuts by hiring curbs, they said.

NHK President Genichi Hashimoto plans to announce a revival plan, including the workforce cuts, Tuesday, according to the sources.

The number of viewers refusing to pay their fees shot up to 1.17 million as of July 31, as the broadcaster struggled amid a spate of scandals involving its employees, including a case of embezzlement that came to light last year.

The figure is more than double what NHK had anticipated, and will result in as much as 10 billion yen in sales losses in fiscal 2005.

NHK also plans to reconsider whether to keep its educational channel on 24 hours a day, the sources said.

Regarding the nonpayment of fees, NHK is considering asking summary courts to issue orders of payment as part of the legal action, they said.

NHK does not have sponsors paying it for commercial slots. Instead, it collects fees from households. It is mandatory for households to pay these fees, though there is no penalty for refusal.

NHK has cut about 5,000 employees since fiscal 1980.

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