National

NHK can launch online simulcasting if it reviews 'compliance' and fee collection systems: ministry panel

Kyodo

A government panel has given the green light for NHK to start simultaneously broadcasting its TV programs online as the popularity of streaming grows.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry’s panel said in a draft report Friday that the plan for the simulcasting service is “appropriate.” NHK aims to launch it in fiscal 2019.

The ministry plans to submit a bill to revise the broadcast law, which prohibits simultaneous streaming on the grounds it could harm private TV networks. Disaster reports and live sports coverage are among the few exceptions under the law.

The report also says that NHK must conduct management reforms to improve compliance and review its system for collecting subscription fees before launching the simulcasting service.

With more people now watching TV online, there is an ongoing debate about whether such viewers should be forced to pay the mandatory NHK subscription fee. In some instances, the matter has been brought to court.

Under the law, people who install a TV receiver are obliged to sign a subscription contract with NHK.

The public broadcaster has recently been hit by scandals involving employees who embezzled the subscription fees. It is trying to reposition itself as “public media” and retain viewers who are leaving for YouTube, AbemaTV, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services.

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