Japanese public b'caster cut to begin 2009

TOKYO – Japanese public broadcaster NHK is making a 10% cut in the $158 license fee that households pay per year.

The pubcaster’s board of governors recommended the cut as part of a proposed three-year business plan spanning the 2009-2011 period.

License fees have been a contentious issue with the public, which often seek to avoid paying them, and also between NHK’s board and its executives.

NHK prexy Shigeo Fukuchi and other NHK execs are facing increased costs from the changeover to digital broadcasting, skedded for completion in July 2011, as well as challenges to the bottom line from the faltering economy.

The board had pressed for a reduction of some 10% in order to combat payment avoidance. Execs offered a smaller cut, but have now relented and accepted the board’s suggestion.

Details of how to implement it will be hammered out in future discussions. “There will be a cut, but it doesn’t have to be across the board,” board chairman Shigetaka Komori told reporters. Among the ideas being discussed are cuts for seniors citizens or subscribers to NHK’s satellite stations only.

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