50 Years of NHK Television

BS and Hi-vision Programs

The success of BS-2 is based on bold and original programming that offers a genuine alternative to terrestrial channels. Among the most successful programs have been 10 Million Votes: BS 20th Century Songs of Japan, Hello Japan: Today’s Prefecture, and Satellite Movie Theater. With the launch of the Digital Hi-Vision (HDTV) channel, NHK's satellite broadcasting has helped to usher in a new age of digital TV.

A new mix of entertainment and culture

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Home cinema,365 days a year
Raintree Country with Elizabeth Taylor, Gas Light with Ingrid Bergman, That Hamilton Woman with Vivien Leigh. Satellite Movie Theater on BS-2 has shown a host of world-famous movies since its launch as a regular program on October 1, 1989, when satellite broadcasting officially began. The program debuted with the epic series Personal Recommendations: Unforgettable Actresses of the Silver Screen. A total of 100 movies were shown up to the year-end, and 100 more were broadcast following New Year's Day, 1990.
Many of the first movies to be shown on BS-2 were in black and white, while color movies were packaged in a succession of popular series such as The World of Hitchcock, Japanese Movie Masters and Academy Award Winners.
BS-2 also co-hosted Satellite Movie Marathon 365 with Japan Satellite Broadcasting (WOWOW), a joint promotion that established satellite TV as the medium for movies.

10 million votes
A major BS-2 project in 1997 was the special program 10 Million Votes: BS 20th Century Songs of Japan, which gave viewers a chance to cast their votes for the best songs of the 20th century. Votes came in by post, fax and e-mail, and the 100 top songs were broadcast.
The selected songs had to have originated in Japan and to be sung in Japanese, but there were no limitations on genre: popular songs, folk songs and children's songs all qualified. From the 17.75 million songs nominated, Misora Hibari's "Like the River Flowing" emerged as the winner. BS-2 covered the event in three special programs: the opening, the standings at the halfway point, and the final results. In April 1998, a new regular program, BS Songs of Japan, was launched.
BS-2 has hosted a variety of events in which viewers can participate by voting, including BS Youth TV: Time Travel, 20th Century News Top Ten, and Japan's Scenic Legacy for the 21st Century.


Hi-Vision live relays
The BS channels have also pioneered the development of large-scale special projects that are difficult to put together on terrestrial TV. Typical of this category was San Xia Travel Guide, which was shown in November 1996. The program provided live coverage of a journey along a 650-kilometer section of China's Yangtze River, which has played such an important role in the country's 4,000-year history. The journey occupied a total of 24 hours and 50 minutes spread over four days, and successfully conveyed to viewers the sheer vastness of the landscape along the way. Lengthy relays of this kind became a feature of BS, with comparable series on The Rhine in June 1997 and The Silk Road: Dunhuang in June 1998.
Similar large-scale relays were set up for Hi-Vision (HDTV) broadcasting as well. In December 2000, to mark the launch of digital satellite broadcasting, Millennium Relay: The Mediterranean provided coverage linking Rome, Sicily and Tunisia. Other lengthy relays featuring Hi-Vision quality have included India: Spiritual Earth (April, 2002) and Guilin Landscape (September, 2002).


Hello Japan: Today's Prefecture
Hello JapanThis popular BS flagship program was based on the idea of using TV as a tool for a promotional campaign. To succeed, the idea requires the participation of as many viewers as possible and the inclusion of information that everyone can enjoy. After much discussion, it was decided that the program should focus on the natural environment, local customs and individual characters in one prefecture per program, and that it should be broadcast over the course of one full day. The first program, broadcast on October 25, 1998, featured Toyama, which is reputed to be the most comfortable prefecture to live in. A new outside broadcast vehicle equipped with a system that could track a satellite automatically was used to relay images from 13 different locations across the prefecture. The program turned next to Kochi and Akita prefectures, and by December 2002, 39 prefectures had been covered.

Sentimental World Travelogue
Sentimental World Travelogue
Millennium Relay, The Mediterranean
Millennium Relay, The Mediterranean
Guilin Landscape
Guilin Landscape
©Sekai Bunka Photo
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