With broadcasts of the just-ended World Cup competition, this year's summer bonus season saw healthy demand for so-called 4K television sets. The 4K format, described as "ultra-high definition," will have the ability to reproduce four times the digital data -- provided the program contents adopt the same technology -- as the previous state-of-the-art, referred to as "full hi-vision."
"From June, 4K-compatible TV tuners went on sale, and the big-screen LCD and organic electroluminesence (EL) models of 50 inches and up have been moving well," a manager at a major appliance retail chain tells Shukan Jitsuwa (July 26).
"From last December, some programs broadcast via BS (broadcast satellite) and CS (commercial satellite) were initiated but actually the respective TV networks have been dragging their heels on offering 4K compatible programming," the president of a TV network admits to the magazine. "NHK is said to have been making efforts to produce documentary programs utilizing 8K technology, which boasts 16 times the number of pixels as full hi-vision, but there are problems with the cost of those receivers, and we don't know how far along they've progressed."
Despite budgetary limitations, production companies have no choice but to accede to the networks' demands for utilize the high-definition format.
"On the other hand, we've been getting complaints from customers who bought the 4K TVs," related the aforementioned store manager. "Despite their being told their sets would be compatible with the 4K broadcasts, they're finding that their models' circuitry can't receive the signals, and for that a separate tuner is required. The tuners are priced between 30,000 to 36,000 yen.
"Since the prices can be expected to increase from next October, when the government will boost the consumption tax from 8% to 10%, retailers are expecting a run on big-ticket appliances."
An unnamed economist tells the magazine, "Despite being on the cusp of a new wave of broadcasting technology, there seems to be less enthusiasm compared to what happened previously. I believe it may be due to more people abandoning conventional TV for YouTube and the various commercial formats streamed via the internet.
"We're now in an era where the viewer can select the programs he wants to see, and watch them when he wants, so TV's raison d'etre has been diminishing," he added.
The TV manufacturers and broadcasters better get their act together, and soon, or they'll miss the boat, Shukan Jitsuwa concludes.
With only a little more than four months until the start of 4K broadcasts, Keizaikai magazine reported that Seiko Noda, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, is worried. She has urged that efforts be made to inform the public to avoid confusion and also requested that "appealing program contents, which only 4K technology can realize, be produced to meet the public's expectations."
According to a survey last February by the Association for Promotion of Advanced Broadcasting Services (A-PAB), only 13% of Japanese consumers understand that a separate receiver might be necessary to make their home units compatible to receive 4K broadcasts.
Speaking at a A-PAB event in December 2017, Noda had remarked that the government had set a target of about 50% of the nation's households to be able to receive 4K by 2020.© Japan Today