NHK to end analog broadcasts early

Digital readiness of rural households questioned

TOKYO -- According to local wire reports, pubcaster NHK is ending analog satellite broadcasts four months ahead of schedule as part of a reorganization of its non-terrestrial channels. NHK denied the broadcasts would be stopped before the government deadline of July 2011, but is set to make an announcement on Tuesday on the issue.
There is understood to be confusion amongst the public as to whether the analog satellite broadcasts would continue after terrestrial channels had completed the switch to digital; ending the satellite broadcasts early would be one way to clear up any such misunderstandings.
“NHK plans to end analog satellite and terrestrial broadcasts at the same time on the July 24, 2011 timetable from the government,” a spokesperson for NHK told The Hollywood Reporter, “though we will be making a press announcement about this issue tomorrow.”
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp) is also set to merge its newer BShi (Broadcast Satellite High Vision) channel into its longer-running BS1 and BS2 channels, which will both become high-definition. BS1 will continue to be mostly a news and current affairs channel, while BS2 will feature cultural and entertainment programming.
The government announced this month that almost 84% of households were now ready for the digital switchover – though some have cast doubts on the accuracy of the figures and maintain that many rural areas are unprepared for analog broadcasts going off air next year.