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Japan sat-TV scene produces rosy view

TOKYO — In a space of five years, digital satellite television broadcasts should reach about the same market penetration levels in Japan as in the U.S., DirecTV president Eddie Hartenstein said.

“I think it is achievable in a five-year time frame for the whole Japanese market to go to a 10% to 15% total market penetration,” Hartenstein said.

While cable TV has never really caught on in Japan, satellite broadcasts have found a niche in the Japanese marketplace. The two satellite channels offered by pubcaster NHK have about 10 million subscribers among Japan’s 42 million households, while CATV has made its way into about 5% of all households.

Hartenstein said that many brand-name program providers in the U.S. are working to develop a customized version of their product for the Japanese marketplace on a platform provided by a satellite broadcaster.

DirecTV is slated to start service in November or December of this year in Japan. It will be the second digital satellite television service after PerfecTV, which already has about 100,000 subscribers in a few months of operation. The third service, JSkyB, is set for a spring 1998 start.

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