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Japan public broadcaster NHK to begin 18 hour/day simultaneous online streaming

This March 2019 file photo shows the NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. (Mainichi/Masaaki Shimano)

TOKYO -- Japanese public broadcaster NHK is set to begin full-scale simultaneous online streaming of its television programs on April 1, its president Ryoichi Ueda told a news conference on Jan. 15.

The broadcaster will launch the streaming for 18 hours a day, between 6 a.m. and midnight, in April under the name, "NHK Plus," after trialing the program for 17 hours a day in March. NHK will also launch services in which people can view recorded programs that were aired over the prior week.

With regard to the hours of simultaneous online streaming of its programs, Ueda explained that the time was set to allow viewers to enjoy its lineup while commuting to work in the morning. He also said the broadcaster will consider whether to simultaneously stream its programs online around the clock "while considering how the services will be used and opinions from viewers as well as the costs."

NHK's Board of Governors, the broadcaster's top decision-making body for its management policy and operations, approved the plan on Jan. 15.

With "NHK Plus," the broadcaster will simultaneously stream programs aired on its general and educational channels. NHK subscribers can view programs online without paying extra fees if they download an application to their smartphones and other devices, set their IDs and passwords and sign up for the services. A person who has a single NHK subscription contract can view programs streamed online on up to five terminals.

In November 2019, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry stopped short of immediately giving the green light to NHK's proposal for simultaneous online streaming, raising questions about rapidly rising expenses and a lack of progress in the broadcaster's management reform. NHK then revised the plan to reduce the costs involved and downscaled its services and submitted it in December to the ministry, which approved the new plan on Jan. 14.

(Japanese original by Hisanori Yashiro, Cultural News Department)

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