Acceptance of digital satcasting slower than anticipated

TOKYO — In a sudden departure from original plans, Japan’s Posts and Telecommunications Ministry announced in late November that analog satellite broadcasting as provided by pubcaster NHK and Wowow will continue until 2011, four years longer than previously planned.

The official reasons given: problems for the services’ subscribers and a feared decline in NHK’s revenues.

“This is outrageous,” one TV exec said. “They do this only to keep the money flowing into (government-owned) NHK’s coffers.”

Not so, retorts the PTM.

According to its projections, 5 million households nationwide will be using analog TV sets in 2007, when analog satcasting was to disappear, and wouldn’t be able to receive digital broadcasts.

Furthermore, the pace of acceptance of digital satcasting, started in December 2000, has been much slower than anticipated. By the end of October, only 3.66 million households subscribed to digital sat services, far below the target of 8 million households for the period. All private broadcasters are losing money on their services.

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