The Supreme Court has finalized high court rulings ordering owners of cellphones with TV functions to pay a subscription fee to NHK, it was learned Wednesday.
The broadcast law obliges anyone who has a TV signal receiver to sign a contract with the public broadcaster.
Presiding Judge Toshimitsu Yamasaki ruled Tuesday in two cases that the broadcast law applies to individuals who own a cellphone with TV capabilities, rejecting appeals by the plaintiffs.
One of the lawsuits was filed by a member of the assembly for the city of Asaka, Saitama Prefecture, who does not own a TV set. The Saitama District Court decided in August 2016 he was not obliged to pay the subscription fee because possessing such a cellphone was not necessarily equivalent to installing a TV signal receiver.
The Tokyo High Court overturned the ruling in March last year, saying the possession of a cellphone with a TV function should be regarded as the same as installing a TV receiver, and that owners of such devices and people that own TVs need to be treated equally.
In another lawsuit, both the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court ruled that the owner of a cellphone capable of receiving TV signals who doesn’t have a TV set at home still needs to pay a subscription fee to the public broadcaster.
NHK issued a statement and said the top court made a “reasonable” ruling in line with its assertions.