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Japanese revive HDTV system

Japan’s analog high-definition TV system sprang back to life Wednesday, only a day after the top broadcasting administrator delivered a death sentence for the country’s attempt to lead the next wave in electronics.

The suggestion that the government would switch its support to a digital HDTV system being developed elsewhere drew angry protests from the public broadcasting network and electronics companies, both of which have invested heavily in analog HDTV.

So Akimasa Egawa, director of the Broadcasting Administration Bureau, on Wednesday retracted his statement and said the government will still promote the Japanese system.

The debate illustrated the difficulty of redirecting a huge, decades-long effort that has brought together just about everyone with a stake in Japanese broadcasting — even when a more advanced technology is emerging in the United States and Europe.

High-definition televisions, long seen as the next major leap in broadcasting , have a much sharper picture and a wider screen than conventional TV.

Japan is the only nation now broadcasting regular high-definition programs, nine hours a day in an experiment begun in 1991 that was once considered a sign of Japanese technological dominance.

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