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Top court upholds ruling ordering hotel operator to pay NHK broadcast fees

The NHK Broadcasting Center is pictured in this file photo taken in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. (Mainichi)

The Supreme Court has upheld the lower court decision that ruled a hotel operator must sign a subscription contract with public broadcaster NHK and pay monthly reception fees as long as its hotel rooms have television sets.

The top court's Third Petty Bench thus dismissed an appeal filed by the hotel operating company in Tokyo against the lower court ruling that sided with NHK.

In a separate appeal trial of a lawsuit that NHK filed against a man demanding that he sign a subscription contract and pay reception fees, the Supreme Court's Grand Bench ruled in December last year that Article 64 of the Broadcast Act stipulating that those who own "broadcast reception equipment," which includes TVs, must sign a subscription contract with NHK is constitutional.

The top court's latest ruling is the first of its kind for a business that has not signed a reception contract with the public broadcaster.

The Third Petty Bench asserted that the Broadcast Act's clause provides for the obligation to sign a subscription contract to ensure that the public broadcaster can collect reception fees in an appropriate and fair manner and does not violate the Constitution.

According to the lower court rulings, NHK demanded in 2013 that the hotel operating company sign a subscription contract, but the business failed to comply. In the lawsuit, the company was ordered to pay 10 months' worth of reception fees for television sets installed at about 280 locations including guestrooms at hotels the defendant operates.

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