December 27, 2008

If you think selling digital TV in the States is hard...

…try doing the same thing in Japan, where the upgrade costs could put the "better" picture and sound quality out of the reach of so many Japanese. Add two distinctly different satellite systems — "broadcast satellite" or {ahem!} "BS" and its rival "CS" — and, well, it gets worse.

But according to The Japan Times, that didn't stop the state–run entity known as NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, which is to Japan what the BBC is to the UK) from doing a half–hour come on to get Japanese TV viewers to "get with the programme," you might say. The network even went so far as to bribe Asahi Shimbun critic Yukichi Amano into telling people what the NHK wanted him to tell them.

Think Japanese TV is weird? Think about what's actually on those rival BS and CS channels, as Philip Brasor writes:

Only a few years ago, NHK pushed high–definition satellite broadcasts and commercial networks launched BS stations requiring special tuners. No one watches those channels because they are redundant, featuring rebroadcasts of programs already available on the networks' terrestrial stations, telemarketing shows and infomercials. Even NHK doesn't seem to have enough programming to fill up its three BS channels and the government has asked it to drop one of them.

And guess who pays the tab. Sore da. The Angry Japanese Taxpayer, who, like his British counterparts, is supposed to do so by law.

And then, of course, comes the sobering thought that content is king:

…as Amano pointed out in his column, all this electronic wizardry means nothing if all that's on offer is the same old junk. On NHK, he didn't say this as strongly as did actress Hideko Hara, who also appeared on the PR program. "What people want," she said, "and what TV gives them just don't match."

Honto da? Really?

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