Tokyo Tower to lure tenants with upgrades


TOKYO -- Facilities at the landmark Tokyo Tower will undergo an upgrade to halt the anticipated defection of Japan's six largest broadcasters to a telecommunications tower that will be the tallest in the world when it is completed in 2010.

Nippon Television City Corp. plans to increase the height of the tower's antenna by 100 meters, which should help reduce the problem of dozens of new skyscrapers that have been added to the Tokyo skyline since it was completed in 1958, but which now interrupt transmitting signals.

Television and FM radio transmissions for the Kanto region surrounding the Japanese capital are presently beamed out from the tower, which at 333 meters (1,091 feet) is about 10 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower, which it closely resembles.

But the red-and-white construction will be dwarfed when the "New Tokyo Tower" is completed at the end of the decade in the Oshiage district of northwest Tokyo, on a site covering some 8,000 square meters.

It will be the tallest freestanding tower in the world at 610 meters (2,001 feet), surpassing the present record holder, Toronto's CN Tower, at 553 meters.

A project team made up of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) and the five private companies -- Nippon Television Network, Tokyo Broadcasting System, Fuji Television Network, TV Asahi and TV Tokyo -- selected the Oshiage site from 15 districts in the capital that had hoped to attract the project. Their decision also was influenced by the imminent move from analog to terrestrial digital broadcasts.

The television companies will pay rent for spaces on the tower for transmission antennas, while the operators also hope to bring in funds from visitors to the observation decks.

Tobu Railway Co., which owns the site and plans to develop the surrounding area as a new shopping and leisure complex, will bear the ¥50 billion ($240 million) construction cost.

Nippon Television City Corp. estimates the cost of increasing the height of the antenna at the Tokyo Tower at ¥4 billion ($34.9 million), while another ¥3.5 billion ($30.5 million) will be spent on improving the broadcasters' transmission facilities.