Territory report: Japan

Japanese satellites link universe of companies

TOKYO — Despite merger mania in media circles around the globe, Japan’s major TV networks don’t seem to have plans to march down the aisle any time soon.

There’s certainly speculation that the existing five commercial networks might eventually be grouped into two down the road, perhaps one headed by Fuji TV, the earnings leader, and the other by Nippon TV (NTV), the ratings leader for the past seven years. But, for now, Japan’s broadcasting behemoths remain separate — and powerful — entities.

Four of the nets are backed by or part of national newspaper congloms, which in Japan are regarded as sacred cows.

Each terrestrial net already operates its own digital high-definition TV satellite net in conjunction with local telcos.

Next year, the broadcasters will launch two new satellite pay-TV platforms: one by Fuji and Sky Perfect Communications (a merger of News Corp.’s JSkyB and Hughes Electronics’ DirecTV Japan), and the other by NTV. The latter teams commercial broadcaster Wowow, Mitsubishi trading house, Japan’s two wire services, Matsushita, FM Tokyo and others.

On the cable front, Jupiter Telecom, originally a multiple system operator venture of Sumitomo and Liberty Media, is acquiring more cablers after merging with Titus Communications (owned by Itochu, Toshiba and Microsoft) a year ago.

TV homes:48 million

Cable homes:10.5 million

Satellite homes:14 million

Local programming:98%

Top show:TBS sitcom “Relentlessness is Everywhere” (20%+ share)

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