Cost for digital switch is $338 million, ministry sez

TOKYO — Japanese networks are aiming for a 2003 start date for terrestrial digital test broadcasting in major cities as part of authorities’ plans to push back the goal posts for the full-scale launching of the format.

The industry group of the major networks, the National Assn. of Commercial Broadcasters, said it would look into the possibility of starting digital terrestrial broadcasting in Japan’s major urban centers in 2003. Such a venture would be in line with plans released a few weeks ago by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

About two weeks ago, the ministry said it will delay by 30 months its plan to allocate frequencies for digital terrestrial broadcasting.

As a result, test broadcasting in urban centers scheduled for 2001 got pushed back to 2003. The ministry is planning a 2010 date for the complete switch from analog to digital.

Over the weekend, the ministry said it will cost about 40 billion yen ($338 million) for new antennas to accommodate the digital switch.

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