Monday, July 25, 2011

Japanese Terrestrial TV Stations Commit Suicide

Yesterday, an era in broadcasting ended for Japan. Terrestrial TV has now gone static and digital broadcasting has begun.

As I have written before, this strikes the death knell for the major Japanese broadcasting stations in Japan. Their ratings and viewership were already at all-time lows. With this conversion, they lose 20 ~ 30% of their audience.

Digital TV subscriptions and tuners are not cheap. In 2011, people with disposable income do not watch TV anymore. As I pointed out in Why the Digital Conversion Will Kill TV Tokyo and TBS:

It seems obvious to me that there's no doubt about it...  Basically:

1) People with money do not watch TV
2) The only people who do watch a lot of TV have either no money or too much time on their hands; they are not active
3) Advertising to people with no money and who are not active is a waste of money.
4) When digital goes online fully, then the only people who don't have the digital equipment are poor people
5) Poor people are the only ones who watch TV Tokyo and TBS now (see #2 above)

The countdown has begun. The digital TV conversion will kill TV Tokyo and TBS.

I also hammered the point home in

The end of analogue TV broadcasting happened yesterday. Kyodo reports:

TOKYO, July 24 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Japanese broadcasters completely digitalized their terrestrial TV broadcasting noon Sunday, ending the analog transmission that began more than a half century ago, except in areas hit hard by March's earthquake and tsunami.

But the telecom ministry estimates some people nationwide have yet to prepare for the analog-to-digital shift and has increased staff for the last-minute campaign to provide people with technical help before analog TVs turn grainy by midnight Sunday.

The broadcasting industry estimates 100,000 households failed to buy essential equipment such as digital tuners and antennas as of Saturday.

In my opinion, those estimates are way off. Even NHK surveys and surveys by Yomiuri newspaper show a 70% ~ 80% rate which definitely repudiates those rosy numbers. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications exempted viewers in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures from the nationwide start of the land-based digital TV broadcasting, putting off the project there until March next year.
Japan's analog television service began in 1953.

Japanese broadcasters digitalized their transmission of programs in stages after the relevant law passed parliament in 2001. The digital broadcasting, along with the traditional analog transmission, began inTokyo and two other major cities of Osaka and Nagoya in 2003 and spread nationwide in 2006.

The video talks about the end of analogue TV and how they are getting massive amounts of complaints and inquiries from people about it.... I imagine many people will not be too happy when they find out that they cannot watch TV anymore unless they cough up a few thousand dollars to watch it.

So, it's the beginning of the end. TV is sliding into irrelevance and oblivion. Good riddance.

Thanks to News on Japan


RYO said...

it's funny that since I threw out the TV, I listen to more Radio. Good thing about radio is that you can listen to it when you are working on something else. With internet you can access to radio from most anywhere. Call for good contents now.

Anonymous said...

What, you mean your goberment doesn't provide rebates for the digital converters like the unitedstate goberment did? It seemed like People thought it was "free money" over here.

I kind of figured part of this whole conversion dealy was to get People to buy new TV's and an attempt to kill the used TV sales market. Like a Cash-for-Clunkers program only without the cash. I think it achieved those goals somewhat.

I wound up throwing out the small battery powered TV I had for power outages, it didn't get replaced.

I noticed the thrift and Salvation Army second hand stores are swimming in old TV's, they still get bought though. Lots of formerly expensive, perfectly working TV's for cheap. So the used TV market lives on, but not so much like before. I can't recall the last time I saw a TV store, there used to be several with many used TV's.

We could afford to switch but didn't. I have a DVD player but I still have a VCR too and I've been getting great deals on movies on old VHS tapes. I think a lot of People are doing the same thing.
But I'm not average, I've never really had cable, I always saw it as $360 per year instead of $30 per month, and I think cable is like $50 per month now days. I couldn't see spending that on cable, especially since every time I went to someones house with cable most of the time they were watching broadcast TV.

The switch has certainly cut down my TV time and I now enjoy the gap where I used to watch "the news".

One local station with a very limited reach still broadcasts in analog. It's often grainy and hard to watch but on some nights it comes in ok. The daytime airtime is filled with very badly produced full length infomercials, but at nights sometimes they play half-way ok movies.
The sitcoms and such aren't worth watching.

The funny thing is, when we tell People this, they look at us like we're crazy and say, "You don't have TV?!" As if not having cable or satellite means, no TV.
Some of those People can't let it go either and bring the subject up all the time as if it's a personal flaw or something. I think they are nuts.

Anonymous said...

I think that almost 100% of what you can watch on "TV" as in television programs brought to you by cable/satellite can all be seen through the internet. So, someone saying they don't watch "tv" anymore or through out their tv, doesn't mean that much these days. It's all there on the world wide web. Except there are a million more choices to view.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 12:14 PM said..."So, someone saying they don't watch "tv" anymore or through out their tv, doesn't mean that much these days. It's all there on the world wide web. Except there are a million more choices to view."

HA! I agree, but Try telling that to People with cable or satellite,... at least here in the u.s. I imagine it's the same elsewhere?

However, my wireless internet is limited so I find myself avoiding video quite often especially long videos. I have yet to watch a full length movie. I have enough to read as it is.

James said...

"I imagine many people will not be too happy when they find out that they cannot watch TV anymore unless they cough up a few thousand dollars to watch it."

I'm not up on all the specifics, but I believe people who have analog TVs can continue watching TV if they buy a digital tuner. Looking on, ( there are a number of tuners for about 11-12,000yen. So "a few thousand dollars" does not seem at all accurate.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Thanks James!

It's been so long since I went to look at this stuff! You are right! The prices have gone way down!
Still, I just called a discount electronics shop Kojima Denki in Yoga (03-5491-2611) and inquired about it. Here's what the nice girl told me:
1) The cheapest digital tuner that will only pick up the former terrestrial stations (6 stations) sells for ¥5,000 (about $60 USD)
2) The cheapest digital tuner that will only pick up the former terrestrial stations and BS digital TV (total about 9 stations) sells for ¥10,000 (about $120 USD)
3) The cheapest tuner that picks up former terrestrial and BS and CS (100's of stations) costs ¥34,000 (about $400 USD)... (plus monthly fee at minimum of about ¥1,800 (about $22 USD)

But! James, here's the kicker. You need a digital compatible antenna. Formerly analogue only TV homes would not usually have these. The girl at Kojima said, "Depending on your house or apartment location, these run from ¥30,000 to ¥100,000 (about $420 USD ~ $1,200 (USD)... With a ¥10,000 installation fee (about $120 USD)...

So, you're right, for the lucky people, the digital conversion won't cost $1000.... It seems to me that, since prices have dropped so rapidly, though, it will still cost at least $400 ~ $500 dollars. I think this is a deal breaker. But then again, even if you paid me, I wouldn't watch TV.

Thanks James!

James said...

Yeah, I was unsure about the antenna. Hopefully many people in apartment buildings, etc, will already have antennas in place and just need a tuner to decode the signal, but there will still be a lot of people in their own homes who will need an antenna and I would think the size and cost will depend on their location.

Cable TV would also be a possibility, but it'll have a significant monthly fee. Same with tv signals over your home fiber internet connection.

I try to avoid Japanese tv as much as possible, as I can now feel it actively rotting my brain. But my wife watches it constantly, so I usually have to tune it out and plink on my notebook on the living room table, or retreat to the kitchen when I can't bear to be around it anymore.

You're in a good spot, Mike - it is slowly but surely driving me crazy to be watching the morning news on Nippon TV most mornings (she turns it on, of course) and they'll have a story involving AKB48 *every single goddamn day*. I grind my teeth and mutter to myself, "this is not news... why is this on the news every goddamn day" but it doesn't do much good other than making me sound like a crazy person.

James said...

Also, I shouldn't need to remind you, of all people, that we shouldn't take at face value the information we get from a person who works for a firm that is there to sell you something.

I notice that has a number of very cheap digital antennas at What does a given household need? I wouldn't know. Some of the cheap ones look like ones you set on top of your set, like new digital versions of the old rabbit ears from our distant youths. How well would these work? I have no idea. I'd take a wild guess that if you're living near a major metropolitan area, one of these might be sufficient. Get a bit further out in the sticks and I am sure a more proper antenna would be needed.

James said...

Although I am sure the girl from Kojima Denki was very nice and secretly attracted to your rugged yet sensitive telephone voice.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Ha! Ha! Ha! Thanks James!

Wife watches TV every morning and AKB 48 is on it? Hmmm could be grounds for divorce!!!


mikeintokyorogers said...

Another after thought to James.... You sound alike a really nice guy who - in spite of apparent frustrations - is actually and extremely happy guy living in Japan....
I can relate. Isn't Japan wonderful? Aren't you glad you live here and this place teaches us patience and what is really important to our lives? (I mean besides the newest AKB48 song, of course)... Yours must be a very happy home.

James said...

Mike, yep, pretty much. I moved here from the US 14 years ago and have a hard time picturing what it would be like to move back. Our son is 4 years old, our new daughter nearly 3 months. I can't imagine what it would be like to raise and educate them in the US now. Japan seems like a much more stable place to raise kids, at the very least. We have our own problems here, of course, but I think we're in a better position than the US.

mikeintokyorogers said...


James said...

ありがとうございます。 Although I've had the easy end of the deal so far - all I had to do was **** my wife.