Japanese public broadcaster NHK has launched a 24-hour English language international TV news channel. From Monday this week onwards NHK World TV will provide a mix of current affairs and Asia-focused in-depth culture and lifestyle programmes, round the clock, all in English. It will be available in some 70 countries in Europe, Americas, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa via satellite, cable TV and the internet.
Apart from current affairs, NHK's new channel aims to focus on Japan's lifestyles and culture
The channel will have a half an hour news bulletin in English every hour, and the other half hour will consist of documentaries on Japan, programmes on animation, Japanese manga comics, fashion and pop culture. There will also be programmes on the Japanese business scene such as Japan Biz Cast that will report on the Japanese market and highlight new products. A part of the content will also be provided by NHK’s commercial partner in this venture, Japan International Broadcasting Inc.
“One of the selling points of the new channel is ‘window of Asia for you and Your Eye on Asia’. For the thirty minutes programme following every hour on the news cast, we will have somewhat more detailed coverage of the lifestyles, culture, history as well as current affairs of not only Japan but also Asia,” says Hatsuhisa Takashima, the CEO of Japan International Broadcasting.
Targeting global audience
NHK has a long history of broadcasting in foreign languages. NHK World Radio Japan already broadcasts in 18 foreign languages including Japanese. NHK TV, till now, had some programming in English but it was limited and didn’t target global audiences on such a massive scale. Toshiyuki Sato, Special Controller of General Broadcasting services at NHK explains:
“NHK started two international TV channels back in 1995, both in Japanese language. One scrambled for Japanese expatriates including entertainment programmes, and one scrambled for an international audience who understood Japanese. This channel was for news and information. The new service inaugurated this time is originated and expanded from the latter one.”
The new channel will be broadcast in some 70 countries across the world. However, there will be no broadcast in Japan itself. Toshiyuki Sato again:
“Our target audience is those who are interested in Asia and Japan, its news and culture, maybe opinion leaders and the young generation who are normally global minded.”
‘Correct message from Japan’
Japan is making a massive effort to do away with age old stereotypes and create a transparent understanding of its culture, says Toshiyuki Sato:
“Because the Japanese are not very good at speaking English or foreign languages and we just smile, so many people misunderstand what we really think! So we’d like to give a kind of right and correct message about the Japanese, how we think and how our society functions.”
According to NHK, NHK World TV can be watched in over a 100 million households throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and most of the Asian countries. It plans to expand to 150 million households in five years. NHK and Japan International Broadcasting have launched a large scale campaign to promote the new project. There have been articles and advertisements in global newspapers such as the International Herald Tribune and others across Europe and Asia.