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Media & Entertainment

Japan's NHK to reduce satellite TV and radio channels

Decision comes amid criticism from private broadcasters over competition

Japan's public broadcaster NHK has been criticized for competing too much with private TV companies.    © AP

TOKYO -- NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, will consolidate its number of satellite television channels from four to two or less and radio stations from two to one, Nikkei has learned. It will also cut spending in those businesses to the 600 billion yen ($5.6 billion) level from 720 billion yen.

The decision to downsize its operations comes amid criticism from private broadcasters.

The changes are expected to be unveiled as early as Tuesday as part of NHK's three-year plan starting from the 2021 fiscal year.

NHK plans to consolidate three satellite television channels, BS1, BS Premium and BS4K, into one, and consider shutting down another channel, BS8K. NHK will also consolidate two AM radio stations. But it does not plan to announce a timeline for the reductions.

The broadcaster will gather public comments after announcing the plan. It could change it, however, depending on the outcome of the public comments and debate in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The broadcaster is not expected to include new cuts for fees in the plan.

NHK's revenue in fiscal 2019 was around 740 billion yen, surging by around 10% compared to fiscal 2014, leading to increased criticism from private broadcasters over what they see as unfair competition given advantages NHK gains from collecting viewer fees. NHK is already planning to lower the fee by a total of 4.5% through fiscal 2019 and 2020, in line with scaling down some of its businesses.

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