Mar 6, 2019
TOKYO - The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday approved a bill to revise the broadcast law to allow public broadcaster NHK to start simultaneous online streaming of its television programs.
"We would like to meet public demand for watching (NHK) programs on their smartphones," said communications minister Masatoshi Ishida. The bill is expected to be enacted in the current Diet session and NHK aims to start the service in fiscal 2019, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Under the current law, NHK's simultaneous streaming is limited to disaster and live sports coverage, as expansion of the national broadcaster's services could have an impact on private TV networks.
People installing a TV receiver capable of getting NHK programs are obliged to sign a subscription contract with the broadcaster under the law. Those who contracted with NHK, formally called Japan Broadcasting Corp., will be able to watch online programs without extra fees.
NHK plans to maintain the cost of subscription in October when Japan's consumption tax is raised to 10 percent from the current 8 percent and reduce it in October 2020 by 2.5 percent of its subscription contract income.
The bill makes it mandatory for NHK to disclose the costs for online distribution to strengthen its disclosure policy, while it gives authority to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to oversee the distribution operations.
The bill also stipulates measures to improve corporate governance as requested by a government panel which gave the green light to simultaneous streaming.
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