50 Years of NHK Television

90's Broader Variety

The late 1990's brought major change in the media environment with the phenomenal spread of the Internet and mobile data terminals. The start of U.S. Major League Baseball telecasts in 1995 was a major event that heralded the arrival of a new era for the media.

Lifeline in an emergency: protecting lives and property

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Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
Sarin attack on Tokyo Subway
Nomo boom (baseball)
Lower House election: single seat constituencies
AIDS by blood transfusion
Atlanta Olympics
Hostage drama at Japanese ambassador's residence in Peru

Nagano Winter Olympics
1998 FIFA World Cup France

Euro in 11 EU countries
NTT launches i-mode
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
International TV broadcasting
50th anniversary of WWII's end
More satellite coverage of Major League Baseball
70th anniversary of broadcasting in Japan
NHK round-the-clock broadcasts
BRO: Broadcast and Human Rights
Hi-vision of earth from space
NHK World TV
Tent 2000, NHK studio for audience participation

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred at 5:46 a.m. on January 17, 1995. It struck the Kobe area with a magnitude of 7.2 and registered a maximum 7 on the Japanese scale of intensity. After immediately commencing emergency reports on radio and TV, NHK continued to provide information about the extent of the damage, practical services and people's whereabouts as a way to support the relief and reconstruction efforts. In the month following the earthquake, NHK aired a total of 273 hours 15 minutes of related news and programs nationwide, and 354 hours 46 minutes in the affected region.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

These broadcasts helped to minimize people's confusion and anxiety as they came to terms with the shocking physical damage caused by the quake. Four weeks after the event, NHK conducted a survey among the victims. It showed that broadcasting had played an important role in helping people "feel the need for mutual help," "know that relief was being offered nationwide," and "know their situation from accurate information presented on TV and radio, and in the newspapers."


Among the respondents, 46% said that TV was the most useful medium (31% of all respondents selecting NHK, and 15% commercial broadcasters). The figures were 34% for newspapers and 14% for radio (half selecting NHK, and half commercial broadcasters). TV had demonstrated its role as a lifeline in a time of emergency.

The Nomo effect
In 1995, the Japanese pitcher Nomo Hideo sparked a craze for U.S. Major League Baseball in Japan after he signed for the Los Angeles Dodgers. NHK's BS-1 provided full broadcasts of all 30 games in which Nomo pitched. Later, pitcher Sasaki Kazuhiro and batter Suzuki Ichiro also moved to the major leagues, and satellite coverage of their games has proved immensely popular throughout the country.

Locating lost people through broadcasting
At 10:30 a.m. on January 17, soon after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake had struck, NHK commenced nationwide FM broadcasts giving information on people's whereabouts. From 1:30 p.m., this type of information was aired continuously for 136 hours on Educational TV in the affected Kansai region, with a total of 158 hours 45 minutes broadcast to January 30th. However, in spite of these efforts, radio and TV were unable to respond adequately. This led to the development of new ways of providing information on people's whereabouts using links to data broadcasts, personal computers, and the Internet.

NHK's international service: NHK World TV
In 1995, NHK introduced an international TV service with two major objectives. One was to provide information to help protect the lives and property of Japanese around the world, including the 18 million who travel internationally each year and the 780,000 or so who live abroad. The other aim was to present up-to-date information about Japan and the world so as to promote international understanding.
Since 1998, there has been a steady shift to digital technology, with three satellite links now enabling the NHK service to be aired in nearly every corner of the globe.
NHK World TV Coverage
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