Comments from the Top (NHK President)

Summary of Press Conference (July, 2020)

  • On the NHK World With Corona Project “Minna de Yell (Everybody Cheer)”

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu, President)

    As the threat of the new coronavirus continues, NHK is launching a new World With Corona Project “Minna de Yell (Everybody Cheer)”. As a public service media organization, while we continue to deliver information to protect people’s safety and peace of mind, we will cooperate with the activities of a charity on this project to help and support those in need in our society, which has been changed by the new coronavirus.
    The project will launch on July 9th with the broadcast of a special feature program. On August 8th, a music program “Live Yell – Ima Koso Ongaku de Yell (Live Cheer – Now More than Ever, Music Cheer)” will broadcast live, delivering the cheer of music from top artists to people such as health care professionals and children, who are living through this difficult time.
    And in sports, too; as was announced by the Japan High School Baseball Federation on July 1st, all of the inter-high-school friendly games that will take place at the Koshien Stadium will be broadcast live.
    The “NHK Nodo Jiman” amateur song contest, for which we have received a lot of requests to hold, will also restart. It will be recorded with a public audience on August 23rd at NHK Hall and broadcast the following week on the 30th. And live broadcasts will begin from the edition to be held in Takachiho, Miyazaki prefecture on September 13th. The person responsible will talk about this in more detail.

    (Comments from the producer)

    Through news, NHK Specials, “Asaichi”, “Heartnet TV” and other programs, along with digital content, NHK is delivering the latest information on the new coronavirus and the impact it is having on the economy and people’s lives, from a variety of angles. And from July, the NHK World With Corona Project “Minna de Yell (Everybody Cheer)” will start.
    On July 9th, with Uchimura Teruyoshi presenting, the project will begin with the broadcast of a special feature “Minna de Yell Kick-off Special”.
    On August 8th, the music program “Live Yell – Ima Koso Ongaku de Yell (Live Cheer – Now More than Ever, Music Cheer)” will deliver the power of music from top artists to people such as health care professionals and children, who are living through this difficult time, with live performances from the NHK Hall.
    In terms of sports, the 32 teams which had qualified for the cancelled National High School Baseball Championship will play friendly games at the Koshien Stadium, with all the games being broadcast live.
    In addition, there will be independent tournaments taking place in regions across the country. To support these tournaments, which are helping to fulfil the dreams of high school baseball players in their final summer, NHK is teaming up with various regional stations to broadcast them in feature programs.
    Children across the nation have been connected via the “Paprika” NHK project song for the year 2020 and beyond. Continuing on from this, we will deliver children’s cheer through programs and events. Further details can be found on the “Minna de Yell (Everybody Cheer)” dedicated website.
    And as part of the project, NHK will work with the Central Community Chest of Japan and the Japanese Red Cross Society on their fund-raising campaign to help those affected by the new coronavirus. We hope to contribute to the building of a mutually supportive society.

  • Programs for August on BS4K and BS8K

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    NHK is using ultra-high-definition 8K filming technology to record valuable cultural and historical heritage, works of art and other items, mixing the history of them with related stories, to make programs.
    I would like to talk now about the recording of buildings in Hiroshima which survived the atomic bombing. It is now 75 years since the dropping of the atomic bomb and efforts are being made to ensure the memories of the war are not lost in the mists of time. The person responsible for this will talk about it in more detail.

    (Comments by the producer)

    This year marks 75 years since the dropping of the atomic bomb. To make sure that those memories are passed down to the next generation, action is being taken in Hiroshima city to preserve the buildings which survived the blast and heat of the atomic bombing. On the other hand, a number of the buildings have been demolished in recent years due to issues of maintenance costs and earthquake-proofing. The number of preserved buildings is decreasing year after year. So we have filmed 12 of the surviving atomic bomb buildings in Hiroshima City in 8K ultra-high-definition footage, and interspersed with interviews of atomic bomb survivors, will broadcast a program telling the story of the history and stories of the time. We would like to continue to make such efforts to properly record for posterity these kinds of buildings and cultural heritage as they are through utilizing the power of 8K

  • On June 26th at the Tokyo District Court, there was a decision issued that in the case of television sets which are made so that they are unable to receive just NHK’s broadcasts, there is no obligation to pay receiving fees; what is your reaction to this and how will you respond from here?

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    There is a process of appeal on this judgement. NHK would like to assert its position regarding this during those proceedings.

  • The balance of surplus funds built up in the 2019 fiscal year, what is your thinking in terms of balancing income and expenditure?

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    Of course I think balancing income and expenditure is a fundamental principle. However, if you take a single year’s budget, in terms of expenditure, it definitely won’t exceed that set out in the budget. It will certainly be lower. On the other hand, in the case of business revenue, because we are working extremely hard on that, and we can’t overestimate what income might be, there are times when a surplus occurs. That happened this time, so in terms of income and expenditure, the result was that there was a surplus of 22 billion yen, so the balance of surplus funds increased.
    I believe the appropriate amount of the balance of surplus funds is below 100 billion yen, around 80 billion yen. From now, we are entering a period where income from the receiving fees is set to decline, and we have promised to return some of the receiving fees through cuts in its level, so navigating this will be extremely challenging. On the other side, with the rebuilding of the aging Broadcast Center, firstly, the Information Building is due to be rebuilt by 2025, without which we wouldn’t be able to continue broadcasting; just rebuilding that will cost around 170 billion yen. That is an extremely large amount of money, and that process will inevitably make a large dent in the balance of the surplus funds.
    Once that is completed, we will have passed a kind of major milestone, and as we will have decrease of income from the receiving fees, I think we will have achieved a good overall balance and created a slimline and strong NHK. I would ask you to understand that NHK is not as flush with money as people from outside might believe it is.

  • At the expert committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, it was explained the key concept of the next mid-term corporate plan would be ‘NHK Rashisa (uniqueness)’; can you talk about the thinking behind that?

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    This is also a return to our origins.
    For example, if a program of a commercial broadcaster were to be extremely well received by the public, I don’t think that means that NHK should imitate it. We don’t have to do that. We should do things that couldn’t be done if NHK did not exist. That is an issue of program quality, of way of production and of time spent on them. In the sense that NHK operates thanks to the receiving fees, then the citizens are like our sponsors, and so we can think for ourselves and even if it takes a great deal of time, make quality programs. On the other, the viewing figures might not be great. Taking that into account, this is what I think NHK should pursue.
    And also for news reporting, issues of safety and peace of mind are our first priority. Another factor is that I want us to always be conscious of cost. Because we are funded by the receiving fees we must keep production costs under control. I believe this is very important. From this point of view, I want us to take another look at our current programs and make sure that everything that can be is being done in that respect. We are currently in the middle of that process. For example, for program production, the method of managing the budgets is that it is overseen by the respective broadcast division, such as BS and terrestrial. Each broadcast division oversees production, but I think it might be better to manage them by program genre. Through managing by broadcast division there is overlap in places. So doing it by genre may be the way to go. Television viewers are not watching in terms of broadcast section, they of course are looking at the content, so that is how they should be made. That is how they will really be judged, so I think we should take another look at this.
    I keep saying that it is not all about viewing figures; because the viewing figures are high doesn’t necessarily make it good, I think the content is also important, and there are programs that only NHK can make. Educational TV is, in a way, only done by NHK; so including that, we should focus again on ‘NHK’s uniqueness’, though it may sound a little abstract, and return to our roots. There is also some criticism from the public that we have expanded our scope too much. I believe that is a valid criticism and so I feel that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for NHK to specialize a little more in what it was originally established to do.

  • At the expert committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, it was proposed that along with NHK’s four satellite channels being reduced to three channels, the satellite receiving fees should be reexamined; what is your response?

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    For satellite broadcasting, including 4K and 8K, there are now four channels on air, but for people who sign a satellite receiving contract there is no extra charge for the two new channels (4K and 8K). The rate of adoption of the required receiving device for the new channels varies, so this is a very tricky issue. It isn’t possible to switch easily from one to the other - it’s not that kind of thing - so naturally we have to look at this in terms of how widely the receiving devices are in use. It would cause sudden inconvenience to those who are using the devices, so I think it will take a little more time to settle this issue. But from our point of view, we were already thinking about reducing the number of channels, so this is an issue we will examine at the same time.

  • So you are looking at reducing the level of the satellite receiving fees?

    (Comments by MAEDA Terunobu)

    I don’t think this is a simple question of just looking at the satellite receiving fees. While examining the receiving fees, we need to look into the whole system, so I think that in terms of the overall service, we must always be considering how we approach this. With satellite broadcasting, it has changed considerably from the way it was in the past; therefore I am conscious that we reexamine it in its entirety. Of course, the number of receiving devices and other elements are important in the end, so we must pay close attention to that. Taking that into account, we would like to find the best approach. There is also a research group looking into this, and so it will produce findings.

  • At the same expert committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, there was discussion of whether people who do not own a television can access NHK Plus; what is your response?

    (Comments by a representative of the corporate planning department)

    As NHK Plus is funded via the receiving fees and is a complementary service to broadcasting, it is accessible by people who have signed a receiving fee contract and those who live with them. For viewers to see such content, as the way of accessing information is diversifying, in the case of those who don’t own a television, our being able to deliver information of high public value and content, as well as fulfilling our role in providing trustworthy information as a core component of the social infrastructure, is an important issue that we are conscious of. Looking at it from that perspective, in terms of having a receiving fee system suited to the era of the convergence of broadcasting and the internet, for example, we are looking at how the issue is handled by public broadcasters in other countries, what the opinions of experts in the field are, and are currently studying this issue and plan to continue to do so in the future.