Free service includes sales contacts

TOKYO — Foreign buyers interested in Japanese TV programming will be able to access an online database, sponsored by Japanese broadcasters with coin from the Communications Ministry.

The database will have info on not only program contents, but also sales contacts. Buyers will have to register to access the database, but will not be charged for the service.

 Japan’s commercial broadcasters, together with pubcaster NHK, will launch an org to administer the database, with government support. Work is skedded to start in fiscal 2008, with a formal launch yet to be decided.

 Asia has traditionally been a strong market for Japanese dramas and other entertainment shows, while the West is more partial to format deals (such as “American’s Funniest Home Videos”) and the occasional Japanese doc.

In any case, exports of Japanese programming total about $42 million annually, compared with $149 million in 2006 for archrival South Korea, where the government has made a strong effort to support local contents, including TV.

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