50 Years of NHK Television

Bringing science to Life

As society continues to evolve and become more complex, human beings must adapt. The limits of all the earth's natural systems can be revealed by science. NHK has employed distinctive perspectives and methods to extend the frontiers of science programming with nature programs, science documentaries, items on everyday science, medicine, health and much else besides.

The scientific eye

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Nature: a universal language
NHK's nature shows started in 1960 with Nature Album. By 1985, video had replaced film, enabling much longer shoots and a new type of nature show, exemplified by Watching. This program recorded the lives and behavior of wildlife in great detail, presenting the results in a studio-based format which appealed to a wide audience and made popular family viewing.
NHK's nature programs received international recognition in 1989 with the debut of The Global Family, a major series broadcast year-round in prime time. That was exceptional for any country, and the program was also shown on foreign stations.
By depicting the complexity of living things and the splendor of their environment, nature programs deliver a message about the importance of the earth. With the advent of Hi-Vision (HDTV), both the images and the message have become clearer still, as demonstrated in the recent series of The Global Family.

Science in society
"The earth looked so blue." Those brief words by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, impressed people all over the world in 1961. That was the year when NHK launched The Age of Science, a program that tackled various important scientific themes. Among its successors were Future Vision, Records for the Future, Science Documentary and Close Up, which looked at the mechanisms involved in contemporary problems like environmental pollution, aircraft accidents and front-line research in the fields of medicine and engineering.
NHK is recognized for the quality of its science documentaries. Special features produced as NHK Tokushu and NHK Special have won many awards, both in Japan and internationally.

 

Towards better health
Today's Health, launched in 1967, offered a practical range of preventive health knowledge that viewers could apply to their own lives. It served as the televised equivalent of a medical encyclopedia.
Health Hotline, on the other hand, which was launched on the BS-2 satellite channel in 1998, used the format of a two-way medical consultation. One distinctive feature was the use of digital technology, including an image database and 3D computer graphics of the human body, to respond to viewers' questions. A website was also set up from which people could obtain information presented in Today's Health. This provided a great service to viewers and listeners.
Starting in 2002, Health is Wealth used advanced digital technology to accomplish the mission expressed by its slogan: "The show that makes its viewers healthy!"

Environmental challenges
The environment is a key subject for science programming, whether dealing with problems on a global scale or highlighting issues where science can make a difference in people's daily lives. One recent program, which drew attention to the dangers of endocrine disrupters in the environment, drew a great deal of attention and won the Hoso Bunka Foundation Prize and EARTH VISION Tokyo Global Environmental Film Festival Grand Prize. In 2003, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of TV broadcasting in Japan, a Hi-Vision Broadcast Center was established at Antarctica's Showa Base. Here a team of five staff members from NHK are spending a year making and broadcasting programs on global environmental themes.


Nature shows Science documentaries Medical and health programs

Watching
Watching
Records for the Future
Records for the Future
Health Hotline
Health Hotline
The Global Family
The Global Family
Close Up: presenter Nakata Kaoru on the scene following the Miyakejima eruption
Close Up: presenter Nakata Kaoru on the scene following the Miyakejima eruption
3D computer graphic of the human body
3D computer graphic of the human body
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