Nippon webs struggle with rights

Satellite channels may make contracts complicated

TOKYO — Japan’s TV market has undergone a fundamental change in the last year with the launch of digital satellite channels by the nation’s main webs in December. Adding to the mix this year, a new communications satellite takes to the air.

But despite these changes, the Japanese presence at Mip will bear a striking resemblance to past delegations.

The webs essentially have little need to purchase anything other than a few knickknacks to fill out their lineups.

Local stations care little for the reality programming boom because they have been in the business of producing their own reality shows for years and do not need foreign formats.

Pubcaster NHK, which already airs “ER” and “Ally McBeal” in regular weekly slots, will be the most active player in terms of acquisitions.

The new satellite channels from the webs will be looking for material in the high-definition TV format but they do not have anywhere near the money or the viewers of their big brother terrestrial stations.

The main problem in making sales to Japan will be working out broadcasting rights contracts. The sat channels are also broadcast on cable, so the contract for a single program might have to accommodate many platforms and windows.

Scores of companies have licenses for broadcasting on the new communications satellite that is set to bow this year. As few of these companies have rounded out their programming schedules, they might be looking to make some purchases at Mip.

Meanwhile, Japan’s largest direct-to-home platform, Sky PerfecTV, is gearing up for more competition and may be looking for some killer content that could give it an edge with viewers.