Tokyo commits to MUSE

Despite comments made by a Japanese Ministry of Post and Telecommunications official indicating a change from analog to digital TV formatting, recent rumors that Japan was giving up its self-developed MUSE system of high definition television in favor of the MPEG system developed in the United States are false, according to Japanese industry leaders.

Chairman of the Electronics Industries Assn. of Japan (and President of NEC Corp.) Tadahiro Sekimoto remarked at a press conference that “Japan’s MUSE system is complete, and we have no ideas of giving up the HDTV system.”

In fact, in response to an appeal made by member companies of the Electronics Industries Assn., the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has just announced that it is ready to draft guidelines for launching full-time HDTV broadcasting starting in 1997.

The request, made by 11 major electronics firms and association members, called for a smooth transition from current part-time experimental broadcasts to full-scale broadcasting.

The ministry has announced that it will seek help from the Radio Regulatory council in terms of deciding which stations to license for test launches.

Currently, HDTV is broadcast in Japan on only one satellite station, operated mostly by public broadcaster NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Japan Broadcasting System) in conjunction with private satellite broadcaster Wowow (Japan Satellite Broadcasting). It airs only part time and can be received for free by anyone who buys the expensive equipment needed to receive the signals.

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