This is the third installment of a semiannual series that overviews the latest trends of broadcast-related services and government policies to clarify the issues. This article covers developments from August 2018 through January 2019.This period saw a significant progress in the discussion at the Committee on the Various Issues Surrounding Broadcasting (hereinafter “the Committee”) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications regarding the amendment to the Broadcast Act that would enable NHK’s simultaneous online delivery of broadcast content; NHK announced its plan to lower the receiving fees as a revision of its receiving fee system, which had been among the terms and conditions for the amendment. Thus, the reform of NHK was a major topic for this period. In November the Committee launched a “subcommittee for strengthening the foundation of broadcasting business” where future visions of local commercial broadcasters were discussed from a viewpoint of corporate management. In December the Liberal Democratic Party’s “subcommittee on the amendment of the Broadcast Act” (hereinafter “the LDP subcommittee”) issued the second recommendations including “proactive restructuring” of local commercial broadcasters.This article consists of three key pillars incorporating the latest trends mentioned above. The first theme involves the future of broadcasting that had been discussed in recent years inevitably in the context of external pressure such as politics and global OTT players (likened to the Black Ships in Japan). The author examines how this has impacted on broadcasters as well as what must be done for the future. The second theme is the latest trend of local media organizations that have been actively deploying various efforts in search of their raison d'etre in local communities, which are faced with increased challenges. The author touches upon the LDP subcommittee’s second recommendation. Thirdly, the author summarizes NHK’s recent moves, which had been accelerated by the policy trend in late 2018, and presents future issues to be discussed.
The second part of the series “Exploring the Broadcasting Institution Based on Testimonies” features Jiro Kurokawa, former Auditor for the Executive Board of NHK, who has first-hand experience of dealing with the revision of broadcasting institution and other relevant issues in the corporate planning division. The author summarizes the interview centering on the moves for revising broadcasting institution and NHK’s responses to various management challenges from the 1960s through the 1970s so that Mr. Kurokawa’s testimony and that of Prof. Hiroshi Shiono in the previous issue can complement each other.Mr. Kurokawa joined NHK in 1960 and was assigned to the corporate planning division. In the early 1960s, he worked for the secretariat for NHK’s study group on Broadcast Act that handled the movements related to the amendment of the Broadcast Act, where he lectured on the broadcasting institution for external intellectuals. His testimony indicates that there were few academic researchers well-versed in this field and that the study group partly served as an opportunity for nurturing experts and played an important role in confirming the meaning of the dual system of broadcasting with public and commercial broadcasters and the receiving fee system.After the deliberation on the Broadcast Act had been settled, NHK was faced with new operational challenges such as the full-scale switchover to color television and the development of satellite broadcasting. Among them, the interview reveals, NHK struggled to obtain understanding of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (predecessor of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) in setting the fee for color TV reception, and there were many twists and turns before the introduction of the new receiving fee system. It is also found that this incident led to the launch of various types of expert panels to explain NHK’s services to the public, and many long-term projects were discussed at those occasions.Mr. Kurokawa’s testimony describes how NHK’s corporate planning division has responded to institutional issues and shows that the relationship between NHK and external experts played a significant part in discussing the roles of public service broadcasting.
The Northern Osaka Prefecture Earthquake on 18 June 2018 recorded strong tremors of lower-6 JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) seismic intensity scale in Osaka Prefecture. As the earthquake occurred on Monday morning, many train services were suspended in the Kansai region, which stranded a great number of commuters. NHK conducted an internet survey of around 2,000 residents of Osaka Prefecture to study their media usage on the day of the earthquake. For analysis, we divided Osaka Prefecture into “northern Osaka” and “other areas.” The findings include the following.- Regarding the information the respondents wanted to access on the day of the earthquake, most cited answers were “scale of the quake/aftershocks” is most-cited for those who were “at home or at friend’s or relative’s house” and “safety of family and relatives” for those who were outside home “staying at places other than the above” or “traveling to work or other places.”- As for the media they used right after the earthquake, the majority of those “at home or at friend’s or relative’s house” watched television (not including simultaneous online streaming of TV content) for gathering information.- Out of 1,014 respondents living in northern Osaka, 25% became “stranded commuters” who either could not return home or had to walk home.- “Portal site/apps” was most cited by as a media tool they used for deciding whether to return home or not.- The survey indicates that preparing for large scale disasters such as earthquakes directly hitting metropolitan areas and providing information responding to the needs of residents in affected areas by utilizing various types of media tools will contribute to preventing confusion.
According to my previous article “Long Term Strategy for the Future of Terrestrial TV Stations Including Public Broadcasters- Featuring ATSC3.0” (Oct. 2018), I revealed that Public Broadcasters are very aggressive about the introduction of Next Gen TV because they need to collect demographic information of viewers to improve their public service. In this article, I explain why commercial terrestrial broadcasters have made the decision to deploy ATSC3.0 from a historical point of view and how they have been trying to carry out their demonstration experiment. It is the “Phoenix Model Market Project” started in April 2018 from the local broadcaster’s point of view.
Ms. Traci Wilkinson, general manager of the CW Network affiliate (KASW) participating in the “Phoenix Model Market” said, “We analyzed the viewing data collection by ATSC 3.0 and measured the total reach. I would like to contribute to the improvement of a good community by giving new targeted advertising value to the terrestrial over-the-air reach. ” In addition, I also found out that Univision broadcasting in Spanish is trying to expand business opportunities by making full use of the Hispanic American and immigrant populations. Based on the history of terrestrial broadcasting, telecommunications industry, the Internet, platform, the advertising industry, and radio technology in the United States, I will discuss the future for terrestrial broadcasting stations affected by diminishing viewers and advertising revenue.