On the response to the new coronavirus and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu, President)
The new coronavirus is spreading and has claimed the life of SHIMURA Ken, who appears in the morning serial drama "Yell". I would like to express my condolences for Mr. Shimura and all those who have lost their lives. And I hope that those who are receiving treatment for infection will recover as soon as possible.
On March 24th, NHK announced six pillars of action it had decided on, including delivering accurate information quickly to ensure safety and security. National and regional television channels and radio, the internet, all of our platforms, will be utilized to deliver this. And NHK Specials will cover the new coronavirus every Saturday in April. Programs broadcast in March, "Pandemic to no Tatakai – Kansen Kakudai wa Fujikomerareru ka (COVID-19: Fighting a Pandemic)" and "Gekishin Corona Shock – Keizai Kiki wa Kaihi Dekiru ka (The Corona Shock: Can We Avoid an Economic Crisis?)", are available on NHK Plus, NHK On Demand and on the commercial network platform TVer. We hope that by making these programs, which are also accessible on NHK Online, available for as many people as possible to see them, it will contribute to preventing the spread of infections.
Going forward, in terms of programs related to the new coronavirus for which we can secure the copyright, we are aiming to make them accessible through NHK Online and TVer so that they can be watched as widely as possible.
On NHK WORLD JAPAN, the international channels aimed at non-Japanese people, information is being broadcast every day via television, radio and the internet, in a total of 18 languages. Also via social media, videos and articles on measures to prevent the spread of infections are being delivered in multiple languages, including English. And an English-language version of the NHK Special "COVID-19: Fighting a Pandemic" I mentioned previously has been made and broadcast via the international channel and uploaded to the NHK World Japan for viewing on-demand, and has been watched by a very large number of people in countries all around the world.
In addition, as part of the measures being taken to prevent the spread of infections, for news and other information programs, presenters are keeping distance between each other, while reporting in confined spaces, which carries a high risk of infection, is being avoided as part of our response.
And shooting of the Taiga historical drama "Kirin ga Kuru (Awaiting Kirin)" and the morning serial drama "Yell" are currently postponed until April 12th. For events and programs featuring public audiences, they were already being held behind closed doors, postponed or cancelled, which are measures we will continue to take.
And due to the impact of the new coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have, for the first time in the history of the Olympics, been postponed for about a year. Highlights of the Olympic Torch Relay and a number of other programs have already been cancelled, while other broadcasts and business operations are currently being looked into. Reexamination of broadcasting and services is being undertaken, but our 'aim to provide the highest standards of broadcasting and services' is unchanged. As the details of the postponed events are decided, keeping a close watch on the outcome of discussions between the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the IOC, we will cooperate as necessary with the Japan Consortium (the organization formed by NHK and the commercial networks to broadcast the Olympic Games) in preparing our response.
As for the rebuilding of the Broadcasting Center in Shibuya, which has been scheduled for after the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, due to the continuing deterioration of the structures, the first phase of the construction work, including the “Information Building”, is set to go ahead as scheduled in September this year. The progress of the reconstruction will depend on the ongoing situation, but as things stand, the aim is for the new Information Building to be ready for use as planned in 2025.
On the start of the new fiscal year
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)
The budget and corporate plan for NHK's 2020 fiscal year was approved the day before yesterday, March 31st, in the Diet, marking the start of the new business year. This fiscal year will be the last of the current three-year corporate plan. Based on our budget and corporate plan, including measures against infections from the new coronavirus, NHK will put its utmost efforts into providing information which protects lives and livelihoods and prevention and reduction of damage from disasters, as well delivering fair, impartial and accurate reporting, and a variety of high quality content.
And continuing on from the reduction in actual receiving fee levels which was introduced in October last year, along with the reduction in receiving fees from October this year, we will move forward with thorough measures to share the burden fairly as we work towards reaching targets of a receiving fee payment rate of 84% and a 54% proportion of people signed to satellite contracts. The current fiscal year balance of income and expenditure is predicted to produce a deficit, but with efforts to share the burden fairly, we will work to increase our income, as well as examining existing business operations and cost-cutting measures, we are aiming to return to a balanced budget in as short a time as possible. And we are now beginning the real work in preparing for the formulation of the next mid-term corporate plan, which will come into effect from the 2021 fiscal year. To that end, by summer we need to come up with a draft plan on which we will solicit public opinions and comments. I would like the key concept for the next mid-term corporate plan to be 'Pursuing NHK's Uniqueness (NHK Rashisa no Tsuikyu)'. So that NHK, as a public service media, will continue to create a wide variety of high-quality content, with me taking the lead, we are moving ahead quickly in examining concrete measures to include in the plan. In tandem with the new fiscal year, the simultaneous continuous online streaming and program catch-up service NHK Plus has been fully rolled out. This fiscal year will be one in which NHK will have to demonstrate its value as a public service media. With broadcasting as our central pillar, we will also continue to make effective utilization of the internet, and work towards making sure all our viewers across the nation truly feel the value of the receiving fees. I'm sure that all of you have questions, and I would like to say in advance that regarding the changes to the Executive Board which will take place on April 25th, in order to realize the policies in the next mid-term corporate plan, I am planning to appoint appropriate reform-minded personnel. Regarding the appointments, agreement is required from the Board of Governors, so once the structure of the new Executive Board has been decided, an announcement will be made to everyone.
On the official launch of NHK Plus
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)
The simultaneous continuous online streaming and program catch-up service NHK Plus was fully rolled out on April 1st. Simultaneous continuous online streaming will now begin an hour earlier, from 6.a.m. Meanwhile, the program catch-up service will continue as it has been as a 24-hour service. I hope that many viewers will make use of the service. During the month-long trial service period in March, more than 300,000 registration applications were received. We had a lot of inquiries from viewers asking about how to register and use the service. On the other hand, we also received a lot of comments saying how convenient it was to be able to watch the latest news on the way to and from work. And many people also expressed their gratitude at being able to watch programs which they had missed or forgotten to record for a week after broadcast. And thanks to the cooperation from copyright organizations and copyright holders, we have been able to stream a very large number of programs.
In terms of the catch-up service, in response to the biggest current concern of viewers and citizens, the new coronavirus, the latest news and information on how to protect against infection will be available, as well as a playlist of programs for children who are studying at home due to their schools being closed. And, we will also stream high quality drama, entertainment, culture and arts programs that help build deep connections between people, which is more important than ever during these difficult times.
Although we did receive a lot of applications to register during the trial period, there were comments saying that the registration process was difficult to understand. In response to this, we have changed the instructions on the explanation page and taken other measures to rectify this. Going forward, we will continue to take into account comments from users of the service in order to improve and develop it while delivering the kind of programs, information and other content which NHK, as a public service media, can provide, and which are accessible anytime, anywhere and as many times as people want.
Programs for May on BS8K
(Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)
The theme for BS8K programming in May will be 'space', with a new production "8K Earth Watcher" and "Hubble Uchu Boenkyo ga Mita Uchu Zekkei (Spectacular Space as Seen by the Hubble Space Telescope)", among others, to be broadcast. And the program we will present now is "8K Tokyo Planetarium", which recreates the starry sky of the Edo period (1603 - 1868) in 8K ultra-high-definition resolution. One of the people responsible for the program will talk about it in more detail.
(Comments from the chief producer)
In the metropolis of Tokyo, due to the beautiful night skyline of buildings and towers, the sparkling stars of old have disappeared from the night sky or are hard to make out. However, countless stars sparkled in the night sky of the Edo period, and stunning views of the Milky Way could be seen in the summer. The evidence for this is recorded in numerous ukiyo-e prints. Using those prints, the night sky of Edo was examined, and an ultra-high-definition camera used to film all the real stars in the sky. With drama segments mixed in, the starry nights of Edo period Tokyo are recreated in the night vistas of today.
We will continue to work to deliver 4K and 8K ultra-high-definition images, the likes of which people have never seen before, from around the country, the world, and even from space.