The Dawn of Overseas Broadcasting

Major developments in international broadcasting The Dawn of Overseas Broadcasting

1935[International Broadcasting Begins in Japan]-1940s

Major developments in international broadcasting  1935[International Broadcasting Begins in Japan in]-1940s


Major developments in international broadcasting 1950s-70s


Major developments in international broadcasting 1980s-90s


Major developments in international broadcasting 2000-2015

1995 Heisei 7

International TV
Broadcasting StartsFor North America and Europe

CHRONICLE    >  1995 >  International TV Broadcasting Starts  | Japan’s International Broadcasting Named NHK WORLD

Tables of major events

  • 1/17. Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
  • 3/20. Sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway
  • 4/3. International TV broadcasting begins.
  • 8/15. PM Murayama’s statement on WWII on 50th anniversary of war’s end
  • 6/13. Garuda Indonesia plane fails in takeoff and burns at Fukuoka Airport.
  • 7/27. Terrorist bomb attack during Atlanta Olympic Games
  • 12/17. Hostage crisis at Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru
  • 4/1. “DAYLINE JAPAN” starts.
  • 4/22. Hostages rescued at Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru.
  • 7/1. Reversion of Hong Kong to China. Special programs aired overseas.
  • 7. Asian financial crisis
  • 12/1~11. UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto
  • 2/7~22. Nagano Winter Olympics
  • 4/12. “Amateur Singing Contest in Brazil” aired.
  • 5. Nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan
  • 6/10~7/12. FIFA World Cup in France, Japan takes part for 1st time.
  • 8/31. North Korea fires Taepodong.
  • Japan offers record-high $10.6 billion in overseas aid.
  • 1/1. 11 EU nations introduce euro.
  • 9/30. Criticality accident at nuclear fuel plant in Tokai Village. 1st death in Japan from radiation exposure in accident
  • 10/1. NHK WORLD TV and NHK WORLD PREMIUM start broadcasting.



NHK began international television broadcasting on April 3, 1995. It aired to North America for about five hours a day, and to Europe for about three hours and ten minutes.

50th Anniversary of End of World War II

1/17/95. Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

1/17/95. Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

In ‘95, NHK began overseas TV broadcasting after a special project to prepare for it.

In ‘95, NHK began overseas TV broadcasting after a special project to prepare for it.

1995 marked the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. On August 15, the day the war ended, then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama issued this statement (the so-called Murayama Statement): “Through its colonial rule and aggression, Japan ... caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.” (Official translation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) He also expressed “deep remorse” and “a heartfelt apology.”

Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

Earlier, on January 17, a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 hit the Hanshin region in western Japan at 5:46 a.m. Its epicenter was the northern Awaji Island. More than 6,000 people were killed. Radio Japan reported the disaster to the world.

The moment the earthquake hit, Radio Japan’s Japanese service suspended all its regular programs and switched to reports on the quake. For a week, it devoted all of its daily 17 hours of broadcasting to the disaster. The English service did the same. Minutes after the quake, on the six o’clock news, NHK reported the quake to the world. For the next week, it devoted all of its daily 13 hours of airtime to coverage of the disaster. In its regional services in 20 languages, Radio Japan mobilized all of its translators and announcers to cover the news, and extended its airtime. It sent special units to disaster areas to collect information on foreign residents there. They called foreign missions, related organs and individuals to find out if foreign residents were all right. And they reported the results in detail.

1st year of Overseas TV Broadcast

On April 3, 1995, NHK began its international broadcasting as commissioned by the state under the Revised Broadcast Law. Before this, all NHK broadcasts offered by TV Japan had been scrambled. Now, some of them were offered free of charge, without scrambling, for five hours a day to North America and three hours and ten minutes to Europe. For NHK, this was truly the first year of international television broadcasting. A special project had been launched to prepare for this. Members of departments in charge of overseas planning, international affairs, news, and programming took part. Also, to send television images overseas, NHK had to make sure there were no problems concerning copyrights. At this stage, no programs were specifically made for overseas, so NHK was using mostly news programs made for Japan for its overseas services.

What Were the BBC and CNN Doing?

Let’s take a look at what the BBC and CNN were doing when NHK began its overseas television broadcasting in 1995. In January, the BBC of Britain launched its international news service BBC World and its entertainment channel, BBC Prime, in Europe. And in February, it began offering BBC World in the U.S., competing with CNN’s overseas service CNNI (CNN International). In this year, the BBC also expanded to Africa, East Europe, Australia and elsewhere. As for CNN of America, in April it began broadcasting news from CNNI’s program production center in Hong Kong. This heated up competition with NBC Asia, which had its head office in Hong Kong, and with Asia Business News (ABN), which had its head office in Singapore. In July, CNN began CNNI’s news broadcasting to South Asia, including India. In this year, CNNI also expanded to places including Myanmar and South Korea.

Japan’s International Broadcasting NamedNHK WORLD


In June 1996, NHK set up a department in charge of handling all of its international television and radio broadcasting. It called the services NHK WORLD.

Programs on Air When it Started

“DAYLINE JAPAN,” the first step in sending news in English to the world. It reported a hostage rescue operation at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru with Yuko Aotani serving as newscaster (4/22/97).

“DAYLINE JAPAN,” the first step in sending news in English to the world. It reported a hostage rescue operation at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru with Yuko Aotani serving as newscaster (4/22/97).

“DAYLINE JAPAN” started as a new overseas TV program in April 1997. “DAYLINE JAPAN” started as a new overseas TV program in April 1997. “DAYLINE JAPAN” started as a new overseas TV program in April 1997.

“DAYLINE JAPAN” started as a new overseas TV program in April 1997.

News programs on NHK WORLD included “NHK News: Good Morning Japan,” “NHK News Noon,” “NHK News 7,” “NHK News 9,” “Today’s Close-up,” “NHK Business Line” and “Evening Network: Archipelago Relays.” “Asia Who’s Who,” “Asia Now” and “China Now” reported on rapid economic growth in Asia.

Some Were Bilingual

For non-Japanese audiences abroad, NHK offered the following shows in English and Japanese in a multiplex-bilingual service: NHK News 7,” “NHK News 9,” “NHK Business Line,” “Today’s Japan” and “Asia Now.” With limited staff and funds, NHK worked to enrich its content by using domestic programs.

Increasing Broadcast Hours

In 1996, one year after the start of NHK’s overseas TV broadcasting, daily airtime increased to an average of 5 hours and 30 minutes in North America and 3 hours and 40 minutes in Europe.

Birth of NHK WORLD

In an organizational revision as of June 7, 1996, NHK set up a department to plan and broadcast news and other programs for overseas. It decided to call its overseas radio and television services NHK WORLD. The department consisted of divisions for strategic planning and international cooperation, programming for radio and television, public relations and producing TV and radio news and other programs (the Production Center), as well as an office in charge of general affairs and accounting. In January 1995, the English Center was launched to coordinate all the work to produce English scripts. In 1997, it was placed under the news division of the Production Center. After all these steps, a new program, “DAYLINE JAPAN,” was launched in April 1997.

The Untold Story of “DAYLINE JAPAN”

Soon after NHK’s overseas TV broadcasting began, its staff increasingly said they wanted to make their own news programs in English and send them to the world. But they had no budget, video editing resources or TV studios. The English Center would give them scripts, but what would they do about images and editing? There were also the issues of titles, subtitles and newscasters’ wardrobe and makeup. The staff had been in the radio business; few had ever worked in television. So they came up with a bold idea: They would do it all themselves. They would make titles and subtitles on PCs. Some had talent for this, and won prizes in in-house contests.

Nothing was there when it started. Every day the staff collected news from morning till noon, and made a 15-minute program. This is how “DAYLINE JAPAN” was born. Then, later, they said, “Let’s make another for tonight.” This led to “JAPAN THIS DAY.”

Looking back, they say they were out of their depth and primitive in many ways. But they say they always kept in mind BBC WORLD and CNN. It is a fact that the enthusiasm and efforts of the staff paved the way for the current flagship program of NHK WORLD, “NEWSLINE.”