Posts Tagged ‘digital TV’

NHK uses carrot and stick approach to get your money

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Demand what you deserve: NHK’s On Demand home page

The good news first. Starting Oct. 1, NHK will be charging slightly less for subscriptions. If your account is only for regular terrestrial broadcasts (NHK-G and NHK-E), the price drops from ¥1,345 a month to ¥1,225, and if your account also includes satellite (NHK BS1 and NHK BS Premium) it goes from ¥2,290 a month to ¥2,170. The bad news, at least for corporate or institutional subscribers, is that the public broadcaster is cracking down on what it believes are scofflaws, particularly multiple-set users who don’t pay for every single TV they have.

On Sept. 10, the Tokyo District Court started hearing a case involving a lawsuit that NHK brought against the hotel chain Toyoko Inn. NHK is demanding the company pay ¥550 million for the period of January to July of this year. The money represents subscription fees for TVs in 236 hotels comprising some 34,000 rooms, which NHK claims Toyoko Inn has not paid in full. Toyoko’s defense is that it has for years had a contract with NHK to pay an annual subscription fee of ¥230 million, representing one-fourth of all the TVs in its possession.

The hotel chain says that it is unfair for NHK to demand fees for all the TV sets since rooms are not always occupied and even when they are guests don’t necessarily watch TV. Toyoko Inn’s lawyers told the Asahi Shimbun that NHK just “suddenly” demanded full subscription fees for all the rooms. He added that if NHK acknowledged the reality of the occupancy rate then the company would negotiate a new blanket subscription fee in good faith.

Continue reading about NHK's collection policies →

Annals of Cheap: 32-inch flat screen TVs

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

In your face: Most families have already replaced their main TV with one of these huge babies

Now’s the time to buy a TV if you’re in the market to replace the old analog CRT clunker that’s been your backup. Prices for mid-size and small flat screen sets are as low as they’re ever going to get owing to several factors that happened to have converged during the last few months.

According to an article in the Mainichi Shimbun, the average price of all the TVs sold in May was a little more than ¥53,000. Moreover, the average price of TVs in the 30-39 inch size range was ¥49,000. That’s a decrease of 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively, from the same month last year. And since those are general nationwide averages, the savings become even starker when you go to discount electronics stores. In March, the average price of a 32-inch flat screen TV set at a discount store was in the ¥50,000-60,000 range, and then dropped to below ¥39,000 in May. Right now, Bic Camera near Yurakucho Station in Tokyo is selling the most vanguard types — energy-conserving LED TVs — for about ¥50,000, but older models are going for as low as ¥30,000. The store’s sales of TVs are 80 percent higher than they were for the same period last year.

Continue reading about flat-screen TVs →

The road to digital TV is not paved with enough antennas

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Which one is the UHF?

Which one is the UHF?

Two weeks ago, the various government and private groups promoting the spread of digital terrestiral TV organized a parade to remind people that analog TV broadcasts will end in a year, on July 24, 2011. That would seem to be plenty of time to make sure everyone will be with the program, but the statistics point to a less certain future. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications last March, 83.3 percent of Japanese households now receive digital TV signals. However, an NHK survey carried out two months earlier found this number to be only 63.7 percent, and a private research company quoted in the Yomiuri Shimbun said it was “less than 70 percent.”

Why the big discrepancy, and, more important, why don’t more people have digital capability despite the fact that digital broadcasts have been available for years and the government and broadcasters have been plugging the hell out of the changeover? NHK and the commercial stations have together spent ¥1.5 trillion to convert to digital, and the nation has contributed another ¥200 billion to the project. The important thing to remember is that once the changeover happens, you can’t go back. When analog is gone, it’s gone forever, and not just because it would be cost-prohibitive for stations to revert. Manufacturers have already stopped producing analog equipment.

And when analog is gone, it could mean that up to 30 percent of Japanese households will be without TV, which is a big problem for a democracy, not to mention a country as susceptible to natural disasters as Japan is. Though most of the media attention has been on the delivery systems, meaning the flatscreen, high-definition, digital sets that have been coming down in price over the past year, the real obstacle is antennas. Analog tuners use VHF antennas, while digital tuners need UHF. Most households no longer have UHF antennas, and even those who do may not have the proper kind. Moreover, UHF antennas for digital have to be properly positioned or else the signal is useless. With analog, even if the signal is weak, you can get something on your TV. With digital, if the signal drops below a certain level, you get nothing.

Continue reading about the road to digital TV →

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