Japan seeks a common receiver for digital, sats

Ministry push to encourage consumer investment

TOKYO — Japan’s Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has announced that it hopes to establish a common receiver for communication and broadcast satellites as well as terrestrial digital TV signals.

Move will benefit consumers by allowing them a single format through which they can tap into the government’s broadcast satellite webs and direct-to-home satcasters. The common platform should provide a boost for electronics makers as it will encourage consumers to invest in digital TV technology, the ministry said.

Receiver available by 2001

Ministry sources said that the common receiver should be on the market by 2001. Japan’s next generation broadcast satellite, featuring a digital format, will take to the air in December 2000.

The new satellite is expected to revolutionize TV viewing in Japan and increase foreign programming purchases as each of the commercial networks will have a new channel of programming on the satellite.

Quick uptake expected

The ministry expects to have 10 million households using receivers for digital signals within the first 1,000 days after the new satellite starts service. The common format receiver should help direct-to-home satcasters Sky PerfecTV and DirecTV as users now have to buy a separate antenna and set-top box to receive the services.