Japanese TV in for license fee hike

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TOKYO -- The government is mulling a 50% hike in the annual license fees that television stations pay for their broadcasts, sources at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Wednesday.

The increase from the current ¥3.5 billion ($30 million) to ¥5.2 billion ($45 million) is likely to be attached to a bill to revise radio legislation that will be submitted to the Japanese Diet next year. The increased will be staggered from 2008-10.

The extra revenue is being earmarked for improvements in transmission facilities for the transition to digital broadcasting, due to be completed by 2011.

Mobile phone operators have long been unhappy about the percentage of total radio wave fees they pay. Despite TV broadcasts using a wider frequency for broadcasting, mobile operators have been paying 80% of total revenue, as compared to 5% from the TV companies.

Total revenue from radio wave fees is set to contribute ¥65 billion ($564 million) to government coffers in the current fiscal year.
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