Japan wants fewer digital promos

Ministry curtails promotional programming

TOKYO — Japan’s telco ministry is reining in promotional programming, including infomercials and shopping shows, on digital satellite channels as it prepares to switch to all-digital broadcasting in 2011.

Promos and commercials now make up 40%-60% of the skeds of the 12 existing digital satellite channels.

With eight to 12 licenses for digital channels still to distribute — and dozens of companies reportedly considering applications — the ministry said it would give priority to applicants whose programming mix contributed to the “healthy development of broadcasting” by airing fewer promos.

The move comes after consumer complaints.

The ministry, known locally as the Somusho, will begin a survey of new license applicants in August; among the questions will be the percentage of promotional shows the prospective broadcasters intend to air. It will accept applications in the spring and issues licenses that summer.

Commercial broadcasters in Japan self-restrict TV commercials to 18% or less of their total weekly broadcasting hours. There is no punishment for violators.

The government does not limit the amount of programming devoted to ads, including promotional shows, since this would infringe on free expression as enshrined in Japan’s Broadcasting Law.

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