Quake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown delays switch in 3 areas

TOKYO — After 58 years on the air, analog broadcasting ended in Japan at noon on Sunday everywhere but the three prefectures hardest hit by the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown.

The transition, which began with the launch of digital broadcasts in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka in 2003 and their extension nationwide in 2006, was completed in 44 remaining prefectures with no major hitches.

Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima will migrate to digital on March 31.

Regional call centers for the digital switch operated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported 75,000 inquiries as of 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon, including some from viewers wondering why their signal had been cut off.

Since digital signals require only two-thirds the bandwidth of analog, the government is devoting the freed bandwidth to mobile and telecommunications services.

In April NTT DoCoMo, TV networks and other providers will launch mobile multimedia broadcasts, including pay-per-view moives pic and sports services, for users of PCs and mobile devices.

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