Japanese Television

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Japanese television is a massive industry that has become a focal point in Japanese culture. Pop culture and worldwide interest in Japanese productions often stems from Japanese television with more than 95% of citizens having used the medium daily since 1985, with a steady decrease in the amount of time spent reading the newspaper in that same time (NHK Opinion Research, 2000).



The first public television demonstration in Japan was held in 1928 in Tokyo by Kenjiro Takayanagi, a teacher at the Hamamatsu Technical College. The format was experimented with further at Waseda University and by NHK until the war started in the 1930s. After the war was concluded, the research continued until production of the first television set in 1953 followed by the first public broadcasts by NHK.

NHK Broadcasting

NHK itself is the sole public broadcaster in Japan with five national channels, two worldwide channels, and three radio stations. With 54 broadcast stations (locally) and 34 overseas bureaus, NHK is among the largest television studios in Asia and is supported by viewer donations and not Government funds. However, NHK’s donations are often mandatory, supported by monthly fees on every TV set owned in Japan. With a 673.8 billion Yen annual operating fund, 97% of it comes from these fees. The annual fee is around $130 US and there is no fee or penalty for non-payment.

NHK’s content varies widely with dozens of different style programs on each channel, ranging from Domo’s World to Let’s Play Together with Mama and Musashi and Oshin. Other programming includes everything from news and documentaries to gardening, Kabuki, Sumo, sports, and American imports, not to mention anime. The NHK run educational channel provides to 85% of elementary schools in Japan and is viewed between 10 and 15 minutes per class and does not contain any commercials.

Nippon Television Corporation

The privately owned television network, NTV is the highest rated network in Japan and since 2002 has regularly garnered top ratings for the all day, primetime, golden time, and non-primetime slots. Also unlike NHK, NTV has a lot of commercials. With 15 production arms and 30 affiliates, NTV provides to over 50 million broadcast viewers, and 20 million subscriber viewers on cable and satellite. It’s investments are wide as well with money in music production, amusement parks, sports teams, and news bureaus in 13 countries.

Programming on NTV includes the likes of popular anime, dramas like Monkey and Without Family, news programming, Yomiuri Giants games, and many more programs that reach top tier throughout the year.

Other TV Stations

Additional television stations in Japan include the likes of:

Programming Content

The content aired in Japan is incredibly eclectic, varying depending on the time of the day and the station being watched. Game shows, talk shows, sitcoms, dating shows, and US imports are all present in plenty. Hollywood and Japanese films are also aired. Anime programs are shown all day with the style and maturity level of the programs being aired largely dependent on the time of day. Top shows are aired during Golden Hour between 7 and 10 PM while more mature programs are shown after 10 while children are sleeping. Children’s programming is shown all day and includes current and past favorites in anime and shows like Ultraman.

Tokyo Television Broadcast Channels

The following is the current broadcast range for the major television stations in Tokyo, Japan. There are a number of additional stations and ranges for each major city in Japan as well.

  • NHK General TV – VHF1
  • NHK Educational TV – VHF3
  • Nippon TV – VHF4
  • TBS TV – VHF6
  • Fuji TV – VHF8
  • TV Asahi – VHF10
  • TV TOKYO – VHF12
  • TOKYO MX – UHF14
  • Open University – UHF16

Stations from Outside Japan

There are a number of stations from outside Japan that broadcast in Japan as well, carrying local and sports programming from overseas. The following are offered:

  • Honolulu Channel 20 – KIKU
  • Honolulu – Nippon Golden Network
  • Los Angeles Channel 18 – KSCI
  • Los Angeles Channel 44 – KXLA
  • New York City – WMBC-TV
  • New York City - TV Japan
  • New York City – AZN TV
  • San Francisco Channel 26 – KTSF
  • European - JSTV

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