• Kyodo

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The communications ministry will conduct hearings with NHK to look into how the broadcaster is handling its contracts with owners of cellphones equipped with a mobile television device, officials said Wednesday.

The decision follows a court ruling last month that owners of such mobile phones have no obligation to sign a subscription fee contract with NHK.

Under the Broadcast Law, a person who has a TV set is obliged to sign a contract with the public broadcaster regardless of whether the owner watches any NHK programs.

The Saitama District Court ruled Aug. 26 that just owning such a handset does not constitute installation of TV equipment and therefore does not fall under the Broadcast Law.

NHK argued that even if owners had not watched its programs they had to sign a contract, given the fact they were using a phone that had a TV function. NHK has appealed to a higher court.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry decided on the hearings because “public interest is high,” a ministry official said.

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