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Public broadcaster NHK announces plan to cut fees by 2020

NHK President Ryoichi Ueda, right, and Board of Governors head Susumu Ishihara hold a press conference explaining the planned reduction of broadcast subscription fees, in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Nov. 27, 2018. (Mainichi/Daisuke Wada)

TOKYO -- Public broadcaster NHK has announced that it will reduce subscription fees by a total of some 32.8 billion yen a year -- roughly 4.5 percent of its projected subscription revenue of 706 billion yen for fiscal 2018 -- by the 2020 fiscal year.

The broadcaster plans to carry out the cuts by not raising the fees when the consumption tax is raised to 10 percent from 8 in October 2019. It will then follow up with an additional 2.5 percent price cut from October 2020. The price change will be a second reduction since October 2012, when up to 120 yen was shaved from monthly fees.

These measures will lower the fee for terrestrial broadcasting by 59 yen per month from the current 1,260 yen, and the fee for satellite broadcasting by 102 yen from 2,230 yen, when paid by bank transfer or credit card.

The price cuts are part of a revised NHK management plan for fiscal 2018 through 2020 approved by the broadcaster's Board of Governors, headed by Susumu Ishihara, who also serves as an adviser to Kyushu Railway Co.

NHK President Ryoichi Ueda explained to reporters that the cuts announced on Nov. 27 are being taken based on the public corporation's principle of balancing revenue and expenditure following a recent spike in the number of new subscribers after December 2017. It was then that the Supreme Court ruled that the current NHK subscription arrangement, which requires all holders of TV sets to pay the fees, is constitutional.

"We judged that we should lower the price after examining medium- and long-term business plans and revenue and expenditure projections," said Ueda. The president added that NHK will also return about 6 percent of its subscription revenue for this current year, as part of burden-reduction measures for subscribers that started 2018, including payment exemptions for students on scholarships and others.

The public broadcaster earned a record 691.3 billion yen in subscription fee revenue during the 2017 fiscal year ending March 2018, renewing historic highs for the fourth consecutive year. The number of NHK subscription contracts is also at a record high of 41.57 million, jumping 509,000 in the six-month period from April 2018.

(Japanese original by Hisanori Yashiro and Tomohiro Inoue, Cultural News Department)

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