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Japanese pubcaster NHK set to return to the black

It hasn't made a profit in three years

Tokyo — NHK has announced its budget for fiscal 2011, projecting a $48 million profit for the year compared to a $73 million loss in fiscal 2010 — the first time in three years that the giant pubcaster will move into the black.

Revenues from receiving fees are expected to bring in $8.05 billion, slightly up on last year. NHK projects a 2% rise in the number of receiving households, bringing in more revenue.

The pubcaster has been cracking down on non-payers of the mandatory fees, even taking the worst cases to court, though it is not saying whether the get-tough policy is contributing to the rise in household numbers.

This rise in revenue is offset, however, by a increase in the number of households on public assistance who are exempt from paying the fees.

All in all, revenues will be 2% short of those projected in NHK’s plan for 2009-2011.

On the positive side, NHK will finally be free from the heavy burden of expenses related to the switchover to digital, skedded for July.

NHK had been contemplating cutting receiving fees by 10% from 2012, but senior director Shin Kanada said in a statement that a cut “will be difficult,” which in Japanese biz-speak means impossible.