50 Years of NHK Television

90's Full-scale Satellite TV

Full-scale satellite TV broadcasts started in 1989, the first year of the Heisei era. The subsequent introduction of digital broadcasting and Hi-Vision (HDTV) offer just two other examples of NHK's quick response to new technological possibilites.

Real-time reports and diverse programs

Previous page
Right pageNext page
Emperor enthroned
German reunification
Economic bubble bursts
Gulf War
Soviet Union breaks up
Mt. Unzen erupts
Sagawa Kyubin Scandal
War in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Barcelona Olympics
Albertville Winter Olympics
AIDS campaign
Wedding of Crown Prince
First non-LDP govt. in
38 years
Hokkaido Earthquake
China Airlines crash in Nagoya
Sarin murders in Nagano Pref
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
  Live war coverage Mohri Mamoru conducts lesson from space shuttle Japan Professional Soccer League (J. League) Hi-Vision test broadcasting

World news
The last decade of the 20th century saw many turbulent develop-ments around the world. The tragic events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 occurred shortly after the launch of regular satellite broadcasting. Satellite coverage of other key events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, provided Japanese viewers with instant news and TV programs from the locations involved. NHK initially aired world news using unmodified materials from 11 broadcasters in nine countries. The present resources include 20 broadcasters in 14 countries and regions. This global TV network was an unprecedented development in broadcasting, making it possible for world news to come to Japan across national borders, accurately conveying the perspectives and viewpoints of people in many different countries.

Broadcasting values
Satellite broadcasts were seen as a key means of eliminating TV blind spots, but they also offered new vehicles for culture and entertainment. The original concept for the BS-2 channel was to supplement everyday terrestrial programming with fresh quality and uniqueness. The key ideas were:
(1) special programming
(2) complete broadcasting of games in sports
(3) high grade and personal.

The immediate effect of satellite broadcasting was to broaden the range of news, sports, educational, cultural and entertainment programs. Satellite channels also led to more flexible programming in NHK's terrestrial channels, General TV and Educational TV, and offered audiences greater choice at popular viewing times.

Today's Close-Up
In 1993, a new program was started on General TV. Today's Close-up is a current affairs program broadcast on weekday evenings that focuses on one issue each day. The program covers developments in greater depth than is possible in a conventional news bulletin, exploring the background and presenting the essential details in a readily comprehensible manner. Making use of NHK's comprehensive network inside and outside Japan, Today's Close-up draws material from all sections of NHK. In 1995, there was particular respect for the program's in-depth coverage of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the crimes of the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The Asian financial crisis of 1998 received frequent and detailed attention, as did the Kosovo conflict in Yugoslavia in 1999. The program continues to be noted for its quick and thorough analysis.

BS-1: Essential real-time news for the international era
The BS-1 channel was set up to provide international information for people in Japan by transmitting frequent live reports on world events from diverse standpoints. BS-1 is also widely commended for its coverage of major foreign sports, including MLB, NFL and NBA from the U.S., Liga Española Spanish soccer, WGP road racing and Wimbledon tennis.
BS-2: more program choice
The BS-2 channel entered service in June 1989 with an in-depth broadcast called The Essence of the Bolshoi Ballet. In October, Satellite Movie Theater went to air. Satellite Movie Marathon 365, an event that enabled 1 million people to cast votes for their favorite films, was launched on BS-2. The daily 6:00-7:00 p.m. time slot was set aside for children, with the airing of Satellite Animation Theater. BS programs have produced new forms of cultural content.
Previous page
Right pageNext page