50 Years of NHK Television

50's Full-scaole TV Broad castiong

TV was launched in Japan two years after national autonomy was restored at the end of the postwar Occupation. In this new era of democracy, people looked to NHK—funded by their receiving fees—to create a fresh type of broadcasting.

Early TV carries on cinema and radio traditions

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1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
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NHK founded
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(NTV, Aug 28)
NHK Osaka and NHK Nagoya begin TV broadcasting

Moving pictures
in the living room

At 2:00 p.m. on February 1, 1953, the first television signal was transmitted in Japan. Speaking from the No. 1 studio at NHK's old headquarters in Tokyo's Uchisaiwaicho district, NHK president Furukaki Tetsuro said: "Television is called a barometer of culture. In that it will appeal to the eyes and ears of people across Japan, TV is sure to exert a revolutionary influence on all our lives." Sure enough, television began to bring major changes to a broad range of activities: politics, economics, social and cultural affairs —indeed, to every aspect of life.

Just five cameras
TV broadcasting began in earnest with just three studio cameras and two for outdoor relays. TV programs were broadcast live except for some news items and movies shot on film.

Sports, drama and major events
Since there were still no recording devices, programming centered on live transmissions of sports events such as baseball games, Grand Sumo tournaments, stage performances, and other major events. Worthy of special mention is the first live relay of the All-Japan High School Baseball Championship Tournament at the Koshien ballpark in August 1953. Thanks to the installation of new micro-circuits, an event taking place in the Kansai region of western Japan could be shown for the first time even to viewers in Tokyo and Nagoya. People were able to view a sporting event in real time without leaving their living room or paying for admission. Television had arrived—and the nation was enthralled.

3:00 p.m., Feb 1, 1953. Japan's first newscast using moving pictures
3:00 p.m., Feb 1, 1953
Japan's first newscast using moving pictures

Piecing together the TV news
In the early days, television stations were inadequately equipped to present news in moving images, except in the form of weekly news digests shot on film. There were regular twice-daily newscasts lasting a combined total of nine minutes: one, at 12:50 p.m., was broadcast for four minutes; the other, a five-minute bulletin, appeared at 7:20 p.m. To begin with, handwritten news titles were presented on camera, accompanied by the simple reading out of a modified version of the radio news. But strong public expectations prompted NHK to make rapid progress in preparing its own news coverage on film.

FEBRUARY 1, 1953

2:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

3:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.
7:15 p.m.
7:20 p.m.
7:25 p.m.
7:30 p.m.
8:00 p.m.
8:15 p.m.

8:45 p.m.

9:00 p.m.

The Tokyo Television Opening Ceremony
Speech by Furukaki Tetsuro
Kabuki relay: Michiyuki
Hatsunenotabi performed by Baiko, Shoroku, etc.
NHK Television News
Inauguration of the U.S. President
Opera Talk
Intermission (4:00 – 6:30 p.m.)
Children's Hour (singing, variety show, etc.)
Ten Ten Television
Television Newsreel
Weather Forecast
Program Preview
This Week's Star (live from Hibiya Public Hall)
Comic dialogue
Modern Dance: Japanese Drums
(live from Hibiya Public Hall)
A Message to Viewers: Yano Ichiro
The Birth of Television
End of transmissions
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