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NHK authorized to begin simultaneous online streaming in April

This Jan. 3, 2020 photo shows the NHK Broadcasting Center, the headquarters of Japan Broadcasting Corp., known as NHK, in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The communications ministry on Tuesday authorized Japanese public broadcaster NHK to start simultaneous online streaming of its television programs from April.

Those contracted with NHK, formally called Japan Broadcasting Corp., will be able to watch online programs on their smartphones and other digital devices without any additional fees. Under a Japanese law, people who install a TV receiver are obliged to sign a subscription contract with NHK.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has stipulated that conditions for the authorization include the prompt implementation of a specific framework to restrict the scale of online operations and creating opportunities for cooperation with private broadcasters.

As NHK's original line of business is broadcasting, for online programs it is required to submit practice standards and win approval over them from the communications minister.

Communications minister Sanae Takaichi decided last November to put the authorization on hold, calling into question the ballooning costs and NHK's delayed management reforms.

In December, NHK submitted a revised proposal to the ministry with reduced costs and scale, and outlined policies to put into effect management reforms in its business plan for fiscal 2020.

Although NHK will not initially have online programs 24 hours a day, it is aiming to provide "non-stop" streaming in the future.

The ministry intends to keep a close eye on the progress of the Tokyo-based broadcaster's management reforms even after the authorization of its simulcasting service, officials said.

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