• JIJI, Staff Report

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NHK started on Sunday simultaneous broadcasting of its television programs on the internet.

The simulcast service, dubbed “NHK plus,” will be offered 17 hours a day from 7 a.m. to midnight in March, before expanding to 18 hours a day from 6 a.m. to midnight in April.

NHK will study whether to provide the service around the clock while examining factors including costs and popularity.

Subscribers to NHK’s TV service can register for the simulcast service through the NHK Plus website or the related smartphone app without any additional fees. When NHK Plus is running, most of the TV programs on NHK’s general and educational channels will be viewable on the internet in real time.

NHK plans to make programs covering the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer, as well as special programs related to natural disasters and other emergencies, available on the simulcast service even for those who do not subscribe.

The public broadcaster expects up to 3.5 million households to use the simultaneous broadcasting service in fiscal 2020, which starts in April.

Five Tokyo-based commercial TV networks jointly conducted a test for a similar simulcast service in January. Given challenges including profitability, however, none has decided to officially launch the service.

Under a plan NHK submitted to the communications ministry in October, the cost of running its internet-related businesses, including the simulcast service, will grow to as much as 3.8 percent of its subscription revenues in fiscal 2020.

But the ministry instructed NHK to review the plan, in light of the concerns raised by the commercial broadcasters.

Based on this, NHK decided to keep the ratio of its internet-related expenses, excluding for the Olympics and Paralympics, at the fiscal 2019 level of 2.5 percent of subscription revenues or below.

The developments forced NHK to give up its plan to start an around-the-clock simulcast service in April.

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