Japan Planning 4K TV Broadcasts in 2014

Sony 4K TV at the CES show this month

The next generation technology, which features four times the resolution of current high-definition broadcasting, may be in place in time for the latter stages of the World Cup in Brazil.

TOKYO – Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is currently discussing plans with the country’s networks and television manufacturers to have 4K satellite broadcasts begin in July 2014.

“The road map for starting 4K broadcasts, along with budgetary issues, is being discussed now, with a view to officially announcing the plans in March or April,” Sumiko Ishimaru, from the ministry’s satellite broadcast division, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Initially, the plan is to use satellite channels for the new format, which will require far more bandwidth than current high-definition broadcasts.

4K broadcasts had been scheduled to begin in 2016, but the move has been brought forward by two years, meaning Japan should now beat technology rival South Korea in the race to offer next generation TV.

“Globally, the move towards 4K television is happening, television sets are coming onto the market, and films and other content being developed,” said Ishimaru.

Becoming the first country to deliver 4K broadcasting should also give Japan’s major consumer electronics makers - Sony, Sharp, Toshiba and Panasonic, which are all losing money in their TV divisions – an advantage in the brutally competitive market.

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK has been developing its 8K Super Hi-Vision system, which it demonstrated at public showings of footage from the London Olympics last year, with a view to bringing it online by 2016. The planned date for 8K broadcasts had been 2020, but that too has been recently brought forward.   

Current high-definition broadcast images are made up of approximately two million pixels (4K increases that to eight million), while 8K systems will double that again. 8K is understood to be at the limit of what the human eye can process.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair