September 2nd, 2007

As you might already know, “public television” in Japan is expressed as NHK (“Nippon Hosou Kyokai,” or “Japan Broadcasting Corporation”). NHK has two basic channels, general and educational, as well as satellite versions. It is controlled by the state.

One of the big controversies around NHK is how to fund it. It is funded by viewer fees, collected by agents of NHK who come to your door (though many give via automatic bank payments). However, a lot of people don’t pay those fees, for whatever reason. The law as currently written requires payment, but does not allow for any punishment for non-payment. Because a lot of people don’t pay, it’s causing a stir in government; some are suggesting that penalties for non-payment be assigned, and that fees be cut by 20% to make it more palatable.

All of this comes across to me as exceedingly stupid. If you’re going to make it mandatory, then why not simply add the money to the national budget and collect via taxes? A lot cheaper, a lot simpler, and far easier to enforce.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2007 Tags: by
  1. jjrs
    September 2nd, 2007 at 13:35 | #1

    I guess the traditional worry was that the fee should only apply to people that own TV’s, and so inpectors came by to look for themselves. Every time the NHK inspectors get by, we get into elaborate semantic arguments about whether or not I can actually receive the NHK signal (I have a TV for watching videos, but no antenna and hardly any reception).

    Other countries with public broadcasting have done it too. In the UK, they actually had a satellite van to check for TVs in residences that hadn’t paid BBC fees.

    But in this day and age that doesn’t make a lot of sense, because nearly everyone has TVs. By the same logic, almost any services could be fee-based. You don’t see inspectors lurking by the gates of Parks trying to bust you for not paying fees.

  2. September 3rd, 2007 at 15:42 | #2

    Even today, most Japanese people I know simply tell the NHK guy that they don’t own a TV. They are not able to doubt you and say… “yes you do! we know you have a TV in there!” so, just telling them you don’t have one ends the conversation.

    Works every time!

  3. Benatlav
    September 5th, 2007 at 15:54 | #3

    Odd way of doing it,

    I think in the UK they have television licences. Here in Canada, the CBC is funded the way you suggested, by collecting it through taxes.

    By the way, I finally got around to making that tofu/ground beef dish you posted a while back. Delicious!

    Anywho, I haven’t really posted in the comments more than once or twice, but your blog is great, and it’s the only blog I actually come back to check every couple of days. Sometime I’d like to make it down to Japan and check out some of the stuff you write about (I’m in high school, but I might do one of the “working holiday” programs offered to Canadian students after I graduate in a year, in which case Japan would certainly be one of my top destination picks!)


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