Nets apply for sat launch

Digital satellite bow in works

TOKYO — Japanese networks are gearing up to launch satellite programming with Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) and Nippon Television Network (NTV) and their partners having applied for broadcasting licenses, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said on Tuesday.

The TBS company called Japan Digital Communication applied for a license on Monday to operate on the Japanese government’s BS-4 broadcasting satellite which will start operation in 2000. Along with a channel on the BS-4 satellite, the company plans to offer one high-definition TV channel and three standard channels that will be free of charge.

TBS and its affiliates own a 41.5% stake in Japan Digital Communication with electronics company NEC Corp. and trading house Mitsui & Co. also holding stakes in the venture.

A venture with NTV, Toshiba Corp. and Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. has already applied for a broadcasting license as well as the operator of the Wowow channel. Wowow has one channel on the Japanese government broadcast satellite that is now in operation.

The next generation BS-4 satellite will be digital, and each network is expected to operate at least one channel on the new satellite. Programming on the current broadcast satellite, which is analog, is viewed by over 10 million Japanese households.

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