NEW YORK (Kyodo) Japanese media companies are out of the loop regarding the global realignment of the media sector, due partly to impediments to the entry of foreign funds and partly to low demand for Japanese-based information worldwide, analysts say.

“Japanese media companies are off the list of acquisition targets of foreign funds,” said Shinichi Ichikawa, chief strategist at Credit Suisse Group in Tokyo.

“We are seeing strong interest from foreign funds in Japan, but not in the media sector,” said Andre Hilton, executive vice president of Daiwa Securities America Inc. “This is a highly regulated and protected sector that will not easily open up to foreign investment.”

The Japanese financial authorities limit foreign ownership in Japanese broadcasting firms below 20 percent. In addition, commercial broadcasting networks are largely owned by major private newspaper companies.

These structural restraints make it hard for foreign firms to acquire Japanese media companies.

Thomson Corp. of Canada has agreed to acquire British media titan Reuters Group PLC in a move apparently aimed at bolstering the Canadian firm’s content of financial and economic information, which is now in strong demand globally.

The deal is part of a growing global realignment of media organizations affected by the worldwide diffusion of the Internet, while demand has grown for financial information services.

In another move, media giant News Corp. has made a bid to acquire U.S. financial wire service Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has assured members of the Bancroft family, which has a controlling stake in Dow Jones, of an independent editorial of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.

In stark contrast with these dynamic moves in North America and Europe, the Japanese media sector remains virtually dead calm although some Internet-related emerging firms attempted to stir up the market by trying to acquire TV and radio stations.

Japan lags far behind the United States and Europe in the financial system — and in dispatching Japan-based financial and economic information to the rest of the world.

It is still in the stage of trying to bring its financial system in line with those of other industrialized nations through various reforms, following in the footsteps of London and Wall Street, analysts say.

So far, no successful acquisitions of Japanese media firms by foreign or Japanese funds have been seen.

Livedoor Co. tried to acquire Fuji Television Network Inc., and Rakuten Inc. sought Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. in the belief that the Internet will replace the television in the media sector in the future.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.