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Nets begin move to HD

Digital TV sales still sluggish

TOKYO — Japanese pubcaster NHK and five major commercial networks will broadcast some of their most popular programming in high-definition starting in December, when digital terrestrial broadcasting is set to begin in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

NHK will initially limit its HD broadcast to Sunday night serial dramas; Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) will beam all of its dramas in the format; while Nippon Television Network (NTV) will cover the Tokyo Giants’ baseball games in HD.

Asahi National Broadcasting (TV Asahi) will air musical programming; TV Tokyo has settled on economic news bulletins; while Fuji Television Network (Fuji TV) has filmed its serial dramas in HD since June so that they can all be broadcast digitally beginning in December.

It remains to be seen whether the lure of these shows in HD will help boost the sluggish sale of equipment for digital TVs. Consumers have been reluctant to spend an average of $2,000 to $3,000 for new television sets capable of receiving both the digital terrestrial and digital satellite signals without separate tuners. This means prices have not come down enough to boost sales, and manufacturers have delayed the development of new models.

To move things forward, networks, manufacturers and other companies active in related fields formed a council in late July to promote digital terrestrial broadcasting.

Starting this month, the council will speed up the standardization of products and heighten public awareness of the new medium and its advantages.