By THE JAPAN NEWS
ASIA NEWS NEWTORK
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to abolish barriers separating communication operations such as those using the internet and broadcast operations involving television and radio stations, in his plan to review the broadcasting business, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The plan is intended to facilitate the entry of internet service operators into businesses that produce broadcast content, according to sources.
There are fears that the envisioned removal of the barriers through deregulation could lead to a decline in the quality and credibility of broadcasting content, as well as the societal roles of broadcasters, and therefore will likely stir controversy.
The deregulation plan may be reflected in a proposal to be compiled by the government’s Regulatory Reform Promotion Council, which is chaired by Prof. Hiroko Ota of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
The main points currently being discussed are:
lAbolishing a regulation that requires political fairness in broadcasting content.
lThoroughly separating businesses that produce programs and other content from those that operate broadcasting facilities and others.
lFull implementation of making NHK’s broadcasts of TV and radio programs simultaneous with distribution of the same content via the internet.
Abe’s plan sets a goal of “creating an environment in which a variety of content production companies, while competing with each other, can provide high-quality and attractive programs to consumers.”
As a means to realize the reform, the plan aims to abolish Article 4 of the Broadcast Law. Article 4 stipulates that when a broadcaster produces or edits programs, it must not harm good morals, it must be politically fair and its reporting must not distort facts.
The plan is also intended to encourage internet service companies to produce broadcasting content by promoting a separation between businesses operating and managing broadcasting facilities and those that produce broadcasting programs.
The plan aims to expand NHK’s online distribution of broadcasting content, which is currently limited by the law to a role supplementary to that of conventional broadcasting. The plan also eyes revisions of related laws so that NHK will be able to realize constant and simultaneous broadcasting and online distribution of the same programs.
An official of the Cabinet Office, which holds jurisdiction over the Regulatory Reform Promotion Council, said, “We will eliminate barriers between broadcasting and internet businesses by relaxing regulations of the Broadcast Law.”
On the other hand, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, which holds jurisdiction over broadcasting businesses, takes a cautious stance toward the deregulation.
People in the broadcasting industry are also concerned about the move, with one saying, “If broadcasting fuses to an excessive degree with the internet, where there is a large amount of information that cannot be confirmed to be true, the credibility of broadcasting will be damaged.”