Japan's public service broadcasting organisation, the Nippon Hoso Kyokai, or NHK, traces its roots to 1926, when it was created out of three city-based radio broadcasters. Since then, it has grown into possibly the world's best-funded public service broadcasting organisation, with a total expenditure in 1999 exceeding 625 billion yen or nearly US$6 billion. NHK currently operates as a classical public service broadcasting organisation, as established pursuant to the Broadcast Law of 1950, as amended. 91
l. Services Provided
NHK operates 5 national television and 3 national radio services. It also provides a worldwide service, consisting of NHK World TV, NHK World Premium and NHK World Radio Japan. NHK operates two terrestrial television services, General TV and Educational TV. The former, the heart of NHK's television service, presents a balance of news, education, culture and entertainment programming. In 1997, the breakdown was approximately 41% news, 19% education, 29% culture and 11% entertainment. The other terrestrial channel, Educational TV, provides mainly educational (77%) and cultural (20%) programming. The three other television services are subscription satellite services, which between them have attracted over 9 million viewers. DBS-1 focuses on news, documentaries and sports, while DBS-2 is more oriented towards entertainment, the arts and culture. Hi-Vision is a high-definition sound and picture service, which began broadcasting in 1994.
Radio 1 is a channel of news, current affairs and practical information. It prides itself in providing up-to-date news services and in being flexible enough to respond rapidly and effectively to disasters and other emergencies. Radio 2 is oriented towards educational programming, as well as broadcasting in foreign languages. FM Radio is NHK's music channel, focusing on classical music, as well as regional programming 92
ll. Public Service Mandate
NHK is subject to a number of obligations binding on all broadcasters in Japan, as well as specific public service broadcasting obligations. Pursuant to Article 3-2 of the Broadcast Law, broadcasters shall not disturb public security, good morals and manners, and shall be politically impartial and accurate as regards news and present controversial matters from a variety of viewpoints. Broadcasters must provide for a variety of programming, including cultural, educational, news and entertainment material. Wherever possible, broadcasters should provide sound messages to help blind persons understand television programmes, and visual images to assist deaf persons. Pursuant to Article 33, broadcasters are required to establish, and make public, broadcasting standards applicable to each type of programming Article 6-2 provides that in the event of a disaster, broadcasters must conduct programming so as to minimise the harmful effect of the disaster.
The general purposes of NHK, set out at Article 7 of the Broadcast Law, are to provide abundant, high-quality domestic programming for the public welfare, which can be received all over Japan, as well as to conduct international broadcasting. Article 44 elaborates the additional public service obligations of NHK, to supplement those binding on all broadcasters, set out at Article 3-2. These additional obligations include satisfying the wishes of the people, enhancing the level of civilisation, providing local, as well as national, programmes and striving towards popularising modern civilisation, as well as preserving excellent features from the past. The international service shall promote international friendship and economic interchange by promoting an understanding of Japan and Japanese culture, and provide entertainment to Japanese nationals abroad.
lll. Governing Structure A. Internal Governance
NHK is, pursuant to Article 8 of the Broadcast Law, a juridical person, with its head office in Tokyo." Pursuant to Article 11, the Articles of Corporation shall provide for a Board of Governors and a Board of Directors. Article 24 provides, in addition to these bodies, for a President, a Vice-President and not more than three auditors as officers of NHK. A form of independence for all broadcasters, including the NHK, is established by Article 3, which prohibits anyone from interfering with or regulating broadcast programmes, except as provided for by law.
The role of the Board of Governors is to decide on management, policy and other important matters relating to the NHK." In particular, pursuant to Article 14, the Governors shall decide on the budget and other financial planning matters, the plan of broadcasting stations, the broadcasting standards provided for in Article 3-3 and remuneration of officers. The Governors also appoint the President, by a vote of not less than 9 of the 12 Governors, and the auditors, and approve the appointment, by the President, of the Vice-President and Directors.'
There are 12 Governors, who appoint their own Chair.96 Pursuant to Article 16, Governors are appointed by the Prime Minister, with the consent of both Houses of the Diet, from among people capable of making fair judgements and having wide experience and knowledge of relevant issues, including the fields of education, culture, science and industry. At least one Governor shall be appointed from each of the eight districts listed in the Annex. No one may be appointed a Governor who has been sentenced to imprisonment, has, within the last two years, been dismissed for cause from the public service, is a national public servant or staff member of any political party, or who has a substantial interest in any broadcasting or related enterprise. Pursuant to Article 20, no more than 4 Governors shall belong to any one political party.
The Prime Minister may dismiss Governors who no longer satisfy the conditions of appointment" and may, under Article 20, and with the consent of both Houses of the Diet, dismiss Governors who are deemed unable to perform their duties, have acted contrary to their official obligations or are guilty of malfeasances which render them unfit to be Governors. Outside of these limited conditions, Article 21 protects Governors from being dismissed against their will.
The Board of Directors, which shall include the Directors, President and Vice-President, shall deliberate on matters relating to the execution of important NHK business." Pursuant to Article 26, the President shall represent NHK and also act as Chair of the Board of Directors. The prohibitions on individuals being Governors, set out in Article 16, apply mutatis mutandis to the President, Vice-President, Directors and auditors.99 The Board of Governors have the power under Article 29 to dismiss a President or auditor who is deemed unable to perform, or to have acted contrary to, his or her duties, or who is guilty of a malfeasance which renders him or her unfit to be the President or an auditor. For the same reasons, and with the consent of the Governors, the President may dismiss the Vice-President or a Director.
B. Regulatory Mechanisms
Pursuant to Article 3-4, all broadcasters are required to establish a Consultative Organization on Broadcast Programs to oversee quality and service. This advisory body must be consulted in relation to the development or amendment of the broadcast standards provided for in Article 3-3, and the broadcaster is legally required to take this body's comments into account. To facilitate the Consultative Organization's work, broadcasters are required to provide it with a variety of information, including information as to how its comments have been taken into account by the broadcaster.
These requirements are spelt out in greater detail in Article 44-2 specifically in relation to NHK, which is required to establish a central advisory body and regional bodies with responsibility for monitoring both domestic and international programming. Members of these bodies shall be nominated by the President, with the consent of the Board of Governors, from among persons of learning and experience in the relevant geographic area. In addition, NHK is required to conduct regular scientific listening polls, which it shall make public." Finally, pursuant to Article 9(6), NHK is required to take into account any views received from persons of learning or having any relation to broadcasting, as long as the view contributes to the development of broadcasting.
Article 4 of the Broadcast Law provides for a right of reply for anyone affected by the broadcasting of untrue matter, as well as for an obligation of correction whenever the broadcaster discovers incorrect material in its broadcasts. To give effect to this right, which may be claimed at any time within three months of the original broadcast, Article 5 provides for the archiving of broadcast material for three months.
Pursuant to Article 33, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications may order NHK to conduct international broadcasting. The Minister also has the power to order NHK to undertake research designed to develop and improve broadcasting, pursuant to Article 34. Both of these powers are subject to a requirement that their cost be borne by the State."
The NHK requires the prior approval of the Minister of Finance to issue bonds, and may not, without the prior approval of the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, transfer or lease any part of its broadcast equipment.' Similarly, pursuant to Article 43, the NHK cannot abolish any of its broadcasting stations, or suspend them for more than 12 hours, without the consent of the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. The same Minister, pursuant to Article 2-2, is responsible for developing a basic broadcasting plan setting out a number of matters in relation to broadcasting stations. The NHK may provide candidates for elective office with an opportunity to broadcast their views or make campaign speeches, provided they grant similar access to all other candidates?'99 The NHK shall prepare an annual budget of revenues and expenditures, as well as an annual report, and present them to the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. The latter shall report to the Diet through the Cabinet on these reports, providing his views, along with the auditors' views. 104
The NHK is, pursuant to Article 9(4), prohibited from making a profit. It is also, pursuant to Article 46, prohibited from broadcasting commercial advertisements. Instead, under Article 32, anyone with equipment capable of receiving NHK broadcasts must pay NHK a fee and this forms the vast bulk of the organisation's revenues. According to its 1999 Annual Report, NHK received almost 98% of its total operating income of 635 billion yen in 1999 from receiving fees. In 1998 over 36 million households paid the basic receiving fee with another 9 million paying subscriptions for NHK's satellite services. 105
91Law No. 132 of May 2, 1950. On the web at: http://www.mptgo.jp/policyreports/english/laws/Bc_index.html.
92 The above information comes from NHK's website, http://www.nhk.or.jp.
93 Article 10.
94 Article 13.
95 Article 27.
96 Article 15.
97 Article 19.
99 Article 25.
99 Article 10. " Article 13. " Article 27. " Article 15. u Article 19. 99 Article 25. 100 Article 27(5).
101Article 44(2). 101 Article 35.
102 Articles 42 and 47.
103 Article 45.
104 Articles 37 and 38.
105 NHK website, http://www.nhk.or.jp.