NHK WORLD

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

1950s-70s

Major developments in international broadcasting 1950s-70s

1980s-90s

Major developments in international broadcasting 1980s-90s

2000-2015

Major developments in international broadcasting 2000-2015

1998-1999 Heisei 10-11

English Channel:NHK WORLD TV (Broadcast)
Japanese Channel:NHK WORLD PREMIUM (Distributed)

CHRONICLE  >  1998–1999 >  NHK WORLD TV (Broadcast) NHK WORLD PREMIUM (Distributed)  | In Oct. 1999, 24-Hour Broadcast Achieved

EXPANDING BROADCAST AREAS AND AIRTIME

In April 1998, NHK WORLD TV began broadcasting by digital waves to the Asia-Pacific region too, for 18 hours a day in Japanese and English. From April 1999, its airtime was extended to 19 hours a day.

For Almost All the World

NHK’s international news room in those days.

NHK’s international news room in those days.

PR poster for overseas: “Don’t be surprised if you come across NHK programs overseas.”

PR poster for overseas: “Don’t be surprised if you come across NHK programs overseas.”

In April 1998, NHK WORLD TV extended its broadcasting to the Asia-Pacific region by digital waves with the use of satellites of PanAmSat (now Intelsat). Digital waves made it possible to send images and sound with high quality impossible in analog broadcasting.

NHK then began distributing pay programs to cable television stations and hotels with scrambling. This service was called NHK WORLD PREMIUM. Mostly dramas and entertainment programs were distributed 18 hours a day.

On October 1, NHK began broadcasting NHK WORLD TV to Latin America, Southwest and Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa (except the south). All this made it possible for people anywhere to know what was happening in Japan in almost real time. The content was mostly news and information programs in Japanese and English. It was free of charge. But people needed big antennas about two meters in diameter to receive it. This was difficult for households and a big hurdle for NHK’s broadcasting.

For some time, NHK WORLD TV and NHK WORLD PREMIUM were aired in Japanese or English or both. This continued until October 2008.

Airtime Extended to 19 Hours a Day

In April 1999, NHK WORLD TV’s airtime increased to 19 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Japan time). Adding “Good Morning Japan” and “Weekly News,” NHK enriched the lifeline functions of the channel. It also offered information on health and useful tips for people living abroad during hours fit for viewing in different parts of the world.

NHK WORLD PREMIUM (Pay Service)

NHK WORLD PREMIUM, which began in 1998, is a pay service for airing NHK programs overseas. It offers news, informational, drama, entertainment, cultural and children’s programs. These are delivered via satellite or cable stations. In those days, they were rearranged for local time slots by JNG (Japan Network Group) in North America, and by JSTV (Japan Satellite Television) in Europe. It is different from NHK WORLD TV, which mainly broadcasts news and current-affairs programs.

*Since February 2008, it has been offering about five hours of mainly news and other information programs a day, free of charge.

In Oct. 1999, 24-Hour Broadcast Achievedby NHK WORLD TV and NHK WORLD PREMIUM

YOU CAN WATCH IT ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

In October 1999, NHK WORLD TV (free broadcasting service) and NHK WORLD PREMIUM (paid distribution service) began broadcasting around the clock. Earlier, in April, NHK WORLD TV extended its airtime to 19 hours a day.

Making Own Programs for Overseas

Three PanAmSat satellites used for NHK WORLD TV and NHK WORLD PREMIUM (broadcasting areas as of August 2012).

Three PanAmSat satellites used for NHK WORLD TV and NHK WORLD PREMIUM (broadcasting areas as of August 2012).

“Today’s Close-up” has been bilingual (Japanese and English) since Oct.’99.

“Today’s Close-up” has been bilingual (Japanese and English) since Oct.’99.

The question was how to develop content. There was a limit to making domestic programs bilingual. People working for overseas services wanted to make their own news programs in English. But people in other divisions asked, “Can you do that with such limited human resources and budgets?”

In 1997, “DAYLINE JAPAN” and “JAPAN THIS DAY” started. The 15-minute programs were made specifically for overseas viewers. The former aired at 2 p.m. (Japan time) and the latter at 6 p.m., both on weekdays. They reported the latest news and included wrap-ups of news in Japan and other parts of Asia. Television was a new world for the staff at the international broadcasting unit formerly engaged in radio. They were often at a loss and met difficulties. They went to the News Department to get copies of images, and made subtitles and stills themselves. They were always busy until the last second getting stills and other images ready. But they were filled with enthusiasm for opening a new page in the history of international broadcasting.

In April 1998, the weekly news program “JAPAN THIS WEEK” began airing. It was also made for foreign viewers. It reported on news of the week in Japan and other parts of Asia, and included correspondents’ reports in English from NHK’s overseas bureaus.

Then, 24 Hours on the Air

In October 1, 1999, NHK WORLD TV started its around-the-clock broadcasting. To do so, NHK began using the Broadcast Video Server system. This platform has played a leading role in modern digital broadcasting using a file-based play-out system. A day earlier, on September 30, a criticality accident occurred at a nuclear fuel plant in the village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture. NHK continued to report the news into the start of the 24-hour service. It kept on reporting developments to the world in real time, non-stop. This highlighted NHK WORLD TV’s role as a powerful communicator.

Enriching Information Programs

When 24-hour broadcasting started, the international broadcasting unit made “Today’s Close-up” on NHK’s General TV channel bilingual by adding an English narration.This has continued until today. Also, domestic bilingual news programs were used in time slots fit for recipient countries. All this made dissemination of information in English from Japan even stronger. Programs on the air included “DAYLINE JAPAN,” “JAPAN THIS DAY” and “JAPAN THIS WEEK,” which were made by the international broadcasting unit for foreign audiences, and domestic news programs such as “Good Morning, Japan,” “News 7,” “News 9,” “Sunday Debate” and “Today’s Close-up.”

24 Hours from NHK- To the Start of All-English Channel in 2009

For international broadcasting, the switch from radio to television came around 1990. In December 1994, the Broadcast Law was amended to define overseas services as NHK’s essential work entrusted by the state.

In 1996, NHK named its overseas radio, television and Internet services NHK WORLD. In October 1999, NHK WORLD TV began to broadcast 24 hours a day. In December 2007, the Broadcast Law was amended again, this time to separate NHK’s overseas services into Japanese and English channels. This gave rise to the huge task of making NHK WORLD TV all English.

In 2005, 52.5 percent of NHK WORLD TV were in English. In February 2009, the goal of making all of its programs in English was achieved. From its own studio, the all-English channel went on the air around the clock with news every hour on the hour.