Gov’t to look into NHK’s contracts with cell phone TV owners


The communications ministry will conduct hearings soon with Japan’s public broadcaster NHK to look into how the broadcaster is handling its contracts with owners of cell phones equipped with a mobile television device, ministry officials said Wednesday.

The decision follows a court ruling last month that owners of such mobile phones have no obligation to sign a subscription fee contract with NHK.

Under the Broadcast Law, a person who has a TV set is obliged to sign a contract with NHK regardless of whether or not its programs are watched.

The Saitama District Court ruled on Aug 26 that just owning such a handset does not constitute installation of TV equipment and therefore does not fall under the Broadcast Law.

NHK, also known as Japan Broadcasting Corp, had argued that even if owners had not watched its programs they had to sign a contract, given the fact they were using a phone that had a TV function. NHK has appealed to a higher court.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications decided on the hearings because “public interest is high,” a ministry official said.

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