Is Japan ready for 4K broadcasting?


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

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

It's absurd how they sell TVs without the necessary tuners installed, I'd be angry as a consumer if I didn't know about that and was expecting to pay up even more money after such an expensive purchase.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever happened to 3D television? For a few months, that was going to be the "next big thing." And, most of the "features" that were used to sell people on the need to splash out for digital television receivers have not appeared. There were scores of NHK programs about the wonders digital would bring. I haven't seen any of them and I have been looking.

4K looks like yet another scam.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

3D telly came and gone a few years back. The BBC experimented with it, and some people bought the special TVs and glasses, but it never caught on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whatever happened to 3D television?

After trying VR, 3D television is useless. VR is where it's at.

4K on the other hand is a beautiful picture, on a medium (flat-screen TVs) that is not going anywhere anytime soon. 4K is the natural next evolution. The picture is great, even on an 80" tv.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

4K TVs may have excellent picture quality, but what is more important is the quality of what is in the picture.

Who needs excellent picture quality when it is combined with low programme quality?

Actually, I have a 50 in 4K TV which is never used for TV, which was reasonably priced because it has no TV tuner.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As gaijintraveler states, picture quality vs content is the problem. Who needs to see the picture-perfect antics of an over-age buffoon hitting a kid with a plastic hammer? Or gross over-acting in a supposed drama?

I hope broadcasters put more money in improving their offerings rather than technology that’ll cost consumers a small fortune and/or their summer bonuses (which most folks won’t get because they work part-time/contract.)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

borschtJuly 17  11:34 pm JST

As gaijintraveler states, picture quality vs content is the problem. Who needs to see the picture-perfect antics of an over-age buffoon hitting a kid with a plastic hammer? Or gross over-acting in a supposed drama?

Right. 1970s era content on 2120s era TV sets... no thanks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Best to let these new techs battle it out before being first in line for the newest, greatest tv's, unless you're looking to start your own tv museum.

Wondering if NHK in 4k would involve needing to pay a higher fee than normal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

4K is an intermediate step to 8K. There is little point buying a 4K TV when 8K will be along a few years later. Mind you, given the drivel that they show these days I don't think I will ever buy another TV. I'll get a big monitor and download/stream stuff to that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But if you look at things in those terms, Scrote, you should never buy anything because there will always be a bigger, better, newer version of everything a few years later.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese TV is DEAD, gone, departed, shaken off its mortal coil, gone to join the choir invisible, gone to meet its maker, bereft of life, it is six foot under, pushing up the daisies.

Even 4k won't bring it back to life.


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Didn't think it was necessary to mention the obvious, but just in case - correct, higher resolution will NOT make the painfully bad J-programming any better - only the picture quality. Ha ha.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who the hell needs 4K in Japan? It's not like there's anything good on the TV here anyways.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I shudder at the thought of seeing Sumo in 4K (or 8K). Anyone ever see those guys in the flesh? Their rumps and upper legs are covered with welts and bruises. Likewise goes for the thick layers of cosmetics on actresses' faces. Enough to make one want to return to the days of black and white TV!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who needs to see the picture-perfect antics of an over-age buffoon hitting a kid with a plastic hammer? Or gross over-acting in a supposed drama?

And these are the main reason I don't watch a single minute of Japanese TV.

Utter tripe.

Keep your 4k for when JTV catches up with the rest of the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites