National

NHK to cut online service budget as part of bid to start internet simulcasts

JIJI

Responding to a request by the communications ministry, NHK will cut its budget for online services as part of its efforts to win government approval for simultaneous broadcasting of all of its television programs on the internet.

NHK also said Monday it will reduce the number of its satellite TV channels from the current four to three as part of efforts to streamline operations.

The public broadcaster apparently announced the measures to allay criticism over its ballooning operations while aiming to boost support for its full-scale online simulcast service.

The measures are in response to the communications ministry’s request for a review of NHK’s cost management after the broadcaster applied for permission in October to conduct the full simulcasts and other online services.

The ministry will decide by mid-January whether to grant permission based on NHK’s report of its review, submitted on Sunday, and comments from the general public collected through Sunday. NHK is expected to reveal changes to the service plan it applied for in October by the end of this month.

“As the fusion of broadcasting and telecommunications services has progressed, the media landscape has changed significantly,” NHK said. Under the circumstances, “starting full-scale online simultaneous broadcasting is essential.”

The broadcaster initially aimed to start full-scale online simulcasts next March, but it now plans to launch the service in earnest in April, the first month of fiscal 2020, following a trial period.

NHK said it will stick to the current plan to curb its fiscal 2020 online business costs, excluding those for programs related to the Tokyo Olympics, at or below 2.5 percent of its viewing fee revenue.

NHK also said it will review the content and scale of its online simulcasts, such as by limiting the times the simulcasts are offered. For the time being, NHK will offer the service for about 17 hours a day, instead of around the clock, informed sources said.

Regarding its group management reform, NHK said it will push to consolidate its technical and program production subsidiaries, and examine its viewing fee policy.

Also on Monday, NHK’s board of governors selected former Mizuho Financial Group Inc. Chairman Terunobu Maeda to take over as president, replacing Ryoichi Ueda.

Maeda, 74, will assume the post on Jan. 25, the day after the term for Ueda, 70, expires. Maeda will be the first person from the financial industry to become NHK president. Ueda will step down after serving one three-year term.

On the reason for Ueda not being retained, Susumu Ishihara, chairman of the board, said, “We wanted him to do a better job on governance issues.”

It has come to light that the board severely warned Ueda over the handling of an NHK television program about inappropriate sales practices for Japan Post Insurance Co. products following a protest from Japan Post Holdings Co. group.