Japan rules on digital channels

Nine successful companies include Fox

Fox Japan is among nine companies set to receive a license to operate a satellite broadcast web in Japan, but Disney’s request for a free-to-air service has been nixed.

An advisory body to Japan’s telco ministry has ruled on applications for digital strands set to launch in fall 2011.

Some 18 companies made applications for 22 channels, twice the number of channels available. The ministry will confirm the successful applicants by the end of the month.

Move will expand the number of broadcast satellite digital channels from the current 12 to 23, all of which will offer HD.

Among the other winners are the Wowow entertainment channel, the Open University of Japan and Green Channel, which broadcasts horse races.

The advisory body judged applicants based on commercial viability, giving preference to pay TV. The reason: Given Japan’s dismal and declining ad market, free services based on ad revenue will have a hard time attaining profitability.

Japan will end analog broadcast satellite TV in July 2011, hence the rush to launch new digital webs.

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