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Public broadcaster NHK plans to lower its viewer fees in fiscal 2023, informed sources said Wednesday.

The fee cut by NHK, or Japan Broadcasting Corp., will likely result in a decline of about 10% in its viewer fee revenue, totaling around ¥700 billion annually, the sources said. The broadcaster will use its surplus funds to cover the revenue drop.

NHK’s viewer fees have been lowered twice since the current fee system was introduced in 1968. The size of the planned third reduction is slated to be the largest ever.

The fee reform plan will be included in NHK’s business program for fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2023, to be finalized the same day, the sources said.

In a draft of the program, announced in August last year, NHK said it would keep the viewer fees unchanged for the three years, despite its cumulative surplus funds reaching some ¥128 billion at the end of fiscal 2019 through March 2020.

Communications minister Ryota Takeda then called for the fees to be cut, saying, “Starting work to cut the fees to reduce burdens on households amid the novel coronavirus epidemic is what the public broadcaster should do.”

Currently, viewer fees for those paying through bank transfers or credit cards are set at ¥1,225 per month for terrestrial broadcasting and ¥2,170 for satellite broadcasting.

Fees were reduced by about 7% in 2012 and roughly 2.5% in October last year.

The broadcaster will downsize its operations in line with the decline in its fee revenue resulting from the coming reduction. The three-year business program will include plans to integrate two of its four satellite broadcasting channels — BS1 and BS Premium — in fiscal 2023, according to the sources.

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