NHK will reduce the number of its satellite television channels from the current four to two.
The public broadcaster announced Tuesday it also plans to consolidate its two AM radio channels into one.
The consolidation, designed to alleviate criticism that NHK’s operations are bloated, was included in the broadcaster’s draft business plan for fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2023. NHK will finalize the plan in January 2021 after receiving public comments.
Separate from the business plan, NHK will consider creating a new viewing fee plan by combining its two existing systems, in line with its efforts to reduce the size of its business. The broadcaster plans to lower its viewing fees by 2.5 percent in October this year and then keep them unchanged for three years.
“How we reduce our viewing fees without lowering the quality of our broadcasting services is a key management challenge for us,” NHK President Terunobu Maeda said at a news conference, in light of NHK’s launch of simultaneous broadcasting of its TV programs on the internet in April. He spoke positively about the prospect of developing a new viewing fee system that reflects the online simulcast.
NHK plans to combine its BS1, BS Premium and BS4K satellite TV channels into two, and integrate the two into one later. The broadcaster will review the costs for its BS8K ultrahigh-definition satellite TV channel after the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, slated to be held in 2021 following a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In line with the channel consolidation plan, NHK will consider unifying the two viewing fee systems and creating a new cheap general viewing fee plan. One of the current two systems charges ¥2,230 per month for terrestrial and satellite broadcasts, and the other ¥1,260 for terrestrial services only.
The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association said in May that NHK’s annual viewing fee revenue, which stands at around ¥700 billion, can be reduced by about ¥200 billion through cost cuts.
NHK’s draft plan does not say whether the TV and radio channel consolidation will be done by fiscal 2023.
With NHK’s expenses, including program production costs, predicted to reach ¥685 billion in fiscal 2023, calls for the public broadcaster to speed up the streamlining of its business are expected to grow.