You are on page 1of 7

Television in Japan

Television broadcasting in Japan started in 1950,[1] although the first television

tests were conducted as early as 1926 using a combined mechanical Nipkow
disk and electronic Braun tube system, later switching to an all-electronic
system in the 1930s using a domestically developed iconoscope system.[2] In
spite of that, because of the beginning of World War II in the Pacific region, this
first full-fledged TV broadcast experimentation lasted only a few months.
Regular television broadcasts only started several years after the war, in 1953,
when the public NHK General TV and the commercial Nippon Television were
launched in the span of a few months.
A modified version of the North American NTSC system for analog signals,
called NTSC-J was used for analog broadcast until 2011. Starting July 24, 2011,
the analog broadcast has ceased and only digital broadcast using
the ISDB standard is available.
All Japanese households having at least one TV set are mandated to pay an
annual subscription fee used to fund NHK, the Japanese public service
broadcaster. The fee varies from 14,910 to 28,080 depending on the method
and timing of payment and on whether one receives only terrestrial television or
also satellite broadcasts.[3] Households on welfare may be excused from the
subscription payments. In any case, there is no authority to impose sanctions or
fines in the event of non-payment; people may (and many do) throw away the
bills and turn away the occasional bill collector, without consequence.[3]

Terrestrial television
In Japan, there are seven nationwide television networks two owned by the
national public broadcaster NHK, and five private networks as follows.
Although some of the network names shown below are used only for news
programming, the applicable organizations also distribute a variety of other
programs over most of the same stations.

Cha Digita
Key Flag Broadc Trans Broad Owner
Networ nnel l Ope
ship asting mitted casting and
k(s) (To Satelli n
(Tokyo) area area hours Newsp
kyo) te

NHK JOAK- 1 Tokyo Tokyo 24- NHK 1 Nippon

General NHK Tower Satellit Febr Hoso
uary Kyokai
TV TV 195 (NHK)
3 Public
e broadca
Televi sting
sion Govern
NHK ment of
Broadc Tokyo
Premi Japan
asting Skytre hours 10
um Educati
NHK Center e Janu
JOAB- Satellit on in
Educati 2 e ary Japan (
onal TV Televi 195 Japan
sion 9 Ministr
y of

Nippon Nippon
News Televisi
Network Tokyo Nippo on
Tokyo 28
(NNN) Nippon n Networ
Nippon Tower Aug
Nippon Televisi 24- Satellit k
TV (JOA 4 Tokyo ust
Televisi on hours e Corpor
X-TV) Skytre 195
on Headqu Televi ation
e 3
Network arters sion Yomiuri
System( Shimbu
NNS) n

All- Tokyo Tokyo Asahi 1
Nippon TV TV Tower Satellit Febr
24- Corpor
News Asahi (JO 5 Asahi Tokyo e uary
hours ation
Network EX-TV) Headqu Skytre Televi 195
(ANN) arters e sion 9

Japan Tokyo 6 Tokyo Tokyo 24- Tokyo 1 Tokyo

News Broadcast Broadc Tower Broad Apri Broadc
asting asting
ing Syste
System System
System Tokyo m l
Network Televisi Mainic
Televisio Skytre hours Satellit 195
(JNN) on hi
n (JORX- e e 5
Headqu Shimbu
TV) Televi
arters n

Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo 12 on
TV Televisi Tower Satellit Apri Corpor
Tokyo 24-
Tokyo (J 7 on Tokyo e l ation
Network hours
OTX-TV) Headqu Skytre Televi 196 Nihon
arters e sion 4 Keizai

Fuji Fuji
News Tokyo Televisi
Tokyo Fuji 1
Network Fuji Fuji on
Tower Satellit Mar
(FNN) Televisio Televisi 24- Networ
8 Tokyo e ch
Fuji n (JOCX- on hours k
Skytre Televi 195
Network TV) Headqu Sankei
e sion 9
System( arters Shimbu
FNS) n

Digital television
Japan pioneered HDTV for decades with an analog implementation (MUSE/Hi-
Vision). The old system is not compatible with the new digital standards.
Japanese terrestrial broadcasting of HD via ISDB-T started on December 1,
2003 in the Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya metropolitan areas. It has been reported
that 27 million HD receivers had been sold in Japan as of October 2007.
The Japanese government is studying the implementation of some
improvements on the standard as suggested by Brazilian researchers (SBTVD).
These new features are unlikely to be adopted in Japan due to incompatibility
problems, but are being considered for use in future implementations in other
countries, including Brazil itself. Analogue terrestrial television broadcasts in
Japan were scheduled to end on July 24, 2011, as per the current Japanese
broadcasting law. However, the switch-over was delayed in Fukushima, Miyagi,
and Iwate prefectures, due to a desire to reduce the inconvenience of those
affected most by the 2011 Thoku earthquake and tsunami. In those areas,
analogue broadcasting ended on March 31, 2012.

Cable television
Cable television was introduced to Japan in 1955, in Shibukawa, Gunma
Prefecture. Until the 1980s, cable television in Japan was mainly limited to rural
mountainous areas and outlying islands where the reception of terrestrial
television was poor. Cable television started to proliferate in urban areas in the
late 1980s, beginning with Tokyo, whose first cable television station began
broadcasting in 1987.[4] In the mid 1990s, two-way multichannel cable
television platforms first appeared in the market; broadband internet services
started being bundled to cable television subscriptions in the late 1990s.
Currently, there are several national and regional cable television providers in
Japan, the largest being J:COM, followed by Japan Cablenet (JCN). These
companies currently compete with the Japanese satellite television
platforms SKY PerfecTV! and WOWOW, as well as the IPTV platform Hikari
TV operated by NTT Plala.
Japan Cable Television Engineering Association (JCTEA) is the umbrella
organisation representing 600 member companies involved in research,
designing, manufacturing, installation and maintenance of cable television
facilities in Japan.
Analogue broadcasting on cable television ended operations on March 31, 2015.

Satellite television
The medium-scale Broadcasting Satellite for Experimental Purposes (BSE) was
planned by Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MOPT) and developed
by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) since 1974.
After that, the first Japanese experimental broadcasting satellite, called BSE
or Yuri, was launched in 1978. NHK started experimental broadcasting of TV
program using BS-2a satellite in May 1984.
The satellite BS-2a was launched in preparation for the start of full scale 2-
channel broadcasts. Broadcasting Satellite BS-2a was the first
national DBS (direct broadcasting satellite), transmitting signals directly into
the home of TV viewers. Attitude control of the satellite was conducted using
the 3 axial method (zero momentum), and design life was 5 years. The TV
transponder units are designed to sufficiently amplify transmitted signals to
enable reception by small, 40 or 60 cm home-use parabolic antennas. The
satellite was equipped with 3 TV transponders (including reserve units).
However, one transponder malfunctioned 2 months after launch (March 23,
1984) and a second transponder malfunctioned 3 months after launch (May 3,
1984). So, the scheduled satellite broadcasting had to be hastily adjusted to test
broadcasting on a single channel.
Later, NHK started regular service (NTSC) and
experimental HDTV broadcasting using BS-2b in June 1989. Some Japanese
producers of home electronic consumer devices began to deliver TV
sets, VCRs and even home acoustic systems equipped by built-in
satellite tuners or receivers. Such electronic goods had a specific BS logo.
In April 1991, Japanese company JSB started pay TV service while BS-3
communication satellite was in use. In 1996 total number of households that
receive satellite broadcasting exceeded 10 million.
The modern two satellite systems in use in Japan are BSAT and JCSAT; the
modern WOWOW Broadcasting Satellite digital service uses BSAT satellites,
while other system of digital TV broadcasting SKY PerfecTV! uses JCSAT

While TV programs vary from station to station, some generalizations can be
made. Most commercial television stations sign on between the hours of 4:00
AM and 5:00 AM every morning. Early morning hours are dominated by news
programs, and these run from around 9:00 to 9:30 AM. They are then replaced
by late morning shows that target wives who have finished their housework.
These run to around 1:30 PM, at which time reruns of dramas and information
programs that target the same age group start. On some stations at 4:00 PM, the
young kid-oriented anime and TV shows start, and end around 7:00 PM or 8:00
PM. Evening news programs air as early as before 4:00 PM or before 5:00 PM
and end at 7:00 PM, when the "Golden Hour" of TV shows start. 7:00 PM to
9:00 PM are the time periods into which TV stations pour the most resources.
Appearing in this time slot is a certain sign that an actor or actress is a TV star.
After 9:00 they switch over to Japanese television dramas and programs
focusing on older age groups, which run till 10:00 or 11:00 PM. Stations run
their late night news mostly at the 11:00 PM hour, and around midnight sports
news programs run which target working ages. After these, programs for mature
audiences run as well as anime that do not expect enough viewers if they were
run earlier. Some commercial stations sign off between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM
every night; however, most stations affiliated with NNS or JNN broadcast 24
hours a day, with the sign off window replaced by a simulcast of their networks'
news channel during the overnight hours. Other stations do filler programming
to fill time before the start of early morning news. Commercial stations
sometimes sign off on Sunday late nights or other days for technical
maintenance. NHK is required to broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Japanese have sometimes subdivided television series and dramas
into kru (?), from the French term "cours" for "course", which is a 3-
month period usually of 13 episodes. Each kru generally has its own opening
and ending image sequence and song, recordings of which are often sold. A six-
month period of 26 episodes is also used for subdivision in some television

Main article: Japanese television drama

Japanese dramas ( terebi dorama?, television drama) are a staple

of Japanese television and are broadcast daily. All major TV networks in Japan
produce a variety of drama series including romance, comedies, detective
stories, horror, and many others. With a theme, there may be a one-episode
drama, or 2-nights, that may be aired on special occasions, such as in 2007
where they had a drama produced as a sixty-year anniversary from the end of
the World War II, with a theme of the atomic bomb.
Science fiction

Main article: Science fiction on television Japanese television science fiction

Japan has a long history of producing science fiction series for TV. Only a few
of these series are aired outside Japan and even when aired, they tend to be
edited, rarely retaining their original storyline. Non-anime science fiction are
still largely unknown to foreign audiences. An exception is Power Rangers and
their subsequent series that used battle sequences from the Super
Sentai counterpart and combined them with American actors who acted out
entirely original story lines.

Anime (?), taken from half of the Japanese pronunciation of "animation",

is the Japanese word for animation in general, but is used more specifically to
mean "Japanese animation" in the rest of the world.[5] Anime dates from about
1917.[6] TV networks regularly broadcast anime programming. In Japan, major
national TV networks, such as TV Tokyo broadcast anime regularly. Smaller
regional stations broadcast anime on UHF. Naruto, Pokmon, Bleach, Dragon
Ball, and One Piece are examples of anime. While many popular series air
during the daytime and evening hours, most air only at night from 12:00am
4:00am. These series usually make profits primarily through BD (Blu-ray
Disc)/DVD sales and merchandising rather than through television
advertisement. Some anime series are original, but most are intended to promote
something else, such as an ongoing manga, light novel, or video-game series.
Variety shows

Japanese variety shows (also known as Japanese game shows)

are television entertainment made up of a variety of
original stunts, musical performances, comedy skits, quiz contests, and other
acts. Japanese television programs such as Music Station and Utaban continue
in an almost pristine format from the same variety shows of years before. The
only major changes have been the increasing disappearance of live backup
music since the 1980s.