Japan: NHK set to become first Japanese broadcaster on Internet
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo

Tokyo, July 18 Kyodo - Public broadcasting company NHK plans to offer already aired television programmes on the Internet possibly from fiscal 2008, becoming the first Japanese television company to do so, sources familiar with the plan said Wednesday.

The Tokyo-based broadcaster, which is funded by viewer fees, is considering providing programmes aired in the past one week to anyone for a charge or free to those already paying viewer fees, the sources said.

The range of programmes to be provided, however, remains unknown as such issues as concerns by copyright holders about illegal reproduction as well as potential protests from commercial broadcasters who fear the continuing expansion of NHKs broadcasting services still need to be addressed, the sources said.

NHK, which also goes by the name of Japan Broadcasting Corp. in English, is planning to make programmes such as news and documentaries up to seven days old available for download on personal computers, the sources said. Programmes will be protected against copying and expire after a certain period.

Other programmes such as dramas and entertainment shows may also be made available for download if consent is secured from performers and other concerned parties, the sources said.

BBC, Britains public broadcaster, is expected to start a similar service on July 27 in which viewers can download free of charge programmes of the past one week and keep them for up to 30 days. Programmes may be replayed for seven days after first being viewed.

NHKs Internet service plan will require a revision of the broadcasting law. A bill to that effect was introduced to the Diet in April but did not get approved. If approval is given in the next Diet session, the service could begin in fiscal 2008, starting in next April, the sources said.

(Source: Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0146 gmt 18 Jul 07 via BBC Monitoring)