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The communications ministry will abandon plans to have NHK collect viewing fees from all households and offices regardless of whether or not they have a TV, informed sources said Saturday.

A panel of experts set up by the ministry had been discussing the plans as the public broadcaster launched real-time online services in April that allows viewers to watch NHK programs on computers and phones.

The ministry concluded that it is difficult to win understanding of the plans from citizens at a time when the number of users of the online service is limited, the sources said.

The expert panel will discuss the matter when it meets on Monday.

The ministry plans to go ahead with separate plans to have NHK return its surplus funds to effectively reduce viewing fees, the sources said.

NHK had ¥128 billion in surplus funds as of the end of fiscal 2019. The ministry aims to include the payback in the broadcaster’s mid-term business plan for fiscal 2021-2023, the sources said.

The expert panel will continue to discuss proposals to integrate viewing fees for terrestrial and satellite TV programs and oblige nonsubscribers to report whether they have TV sets or not, the sources said.

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