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Japan delays digital TV date

Pushes back start-up to 2001-2002

TOKYO — Japan’s Post & Telecommunications Ministry has apparently cooled its heels about digital terrestrial TV broadcasting by pushing back the start-up date in Japan by one to two years to 2001 or 2002, a nationwide financial daily reported Tuesday.

The ministry decided to set up a one-to-two-year test period starting in 2000 for digital TV broadcasting at the request of networks not willing to lay out huge sums for the digital conversion, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported, citing ministry sources.

Ministry officials declined to comment on the article.

Last year the ministry announced plans to start digital TV broadcasting in 2000, and it recommended testing that would start this year. Under the new plan, testing would start in 2000 and digital TV broadcasting would start in 2001 or 2002 only in Japan’s three major urban areas, it said.

Nationwide broadcasting would begin in 2006.

The ministry backed away from its digital date because broadcasters led by pubcaster NHK had balked at shelling out the huge sums of money it would take for digital conversion, the paper said.

Industry sources said it should cost about 1 trillion yen ($800 million) to build relay antennas for digital signals and for studio remodeling.

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