The Mainichi Shimbun answers common questions readers may have about public broadcaster NHK's plan to start constant simultaneous online streaming.
Question: Can viewers watch television programs on air over the internet?
Answer: NHK is aiming to begin constant simultaneous online streaming of its television programs in fiscal 2019. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's panel gave permission for such broadcasts under certain conditions.
Q: How come the recent World Cup could be viewed from smartphones?
A: Live sports coverage of big events such as the World Cup and Olympics, and disaster reports are already being streamed as exceptions. In the future, people can view television programs "simultaneously" through 24-hour constant online streaming.
Q: Is NHK going to collect subscription fees?
A: Additional fees are not demanded from households that already pay subscriptions fees. Programs can be viewed for some time even if unpaid, but in terms of "equitable burden-sharing among households" there is a high chance of NHK collecting subscription fees from households without televisions that watch online. Last year NHK was keen on the concept of an "internet subscription fee." However, such a move was postponed due to a backlash from commercial broadcasting companies and viewers criticizing that "NHK will become too big."
Q: So can everyone watch online streaming for now?
A: NHK is considering displaying some kind of message on the screen for those which cannot be confirmed as paying NHK fees. It may be similar to the message that appears, when trying to watch BS (satellite) programs on televisions for households which cannot be confirmed to have signed a contract.
Q: Will NHK collect subscription fees from everyone who has a smartphone in the future?
A: In the original plan, viewers watching programs on special applications were to have to pay fees. But it seems unlikely for NHK to collect fees from everyone who has a smartphone.
(Answers by Tomohiro Inoue, Cultural News Department)