Abbreviation for 日本放送協会, Nippon Hôsô Kyôkai, or the Japanese Broadcasting Association. A parastatal corporation founded in 1926 by the merger of three urban radio stations, NHK now operates 54 broadcasting stations in Japan and 32 news bureaus in other countries, including main bureaus in London, Beijing, and New York City. Their headquarters is in Shibuya, Tokyo, near Yoyogi Park.

NHK has two broadcast TV channels, three radio stations, three broadcast satellite (BS) channels, and a 22-language shortwave service called NHK World. The majority of their programming is news and educational shows, with high-culture entertainment thrown in (think Japanese PBS). They also carry some American shows (as of mid-2002, ER, Will and Grace, and Roswell). DirecTV owners in the US may be familiar with Newswatch, Yuko Nomura's English-language news show that is rebroadcast on Newsworld International.

Recently, NHK's Hi-Vision was accepted by the International Telecommunications Union as the worldwide standard for HDTV broadcasting. NHK plans to upgrade all its transmitters to HDTV by 2003. They have also dabbled for some time in bilingual broadcasting, using interpreters to offer real-time English translations of news and sports shows.

The network does not have commercials: rather, they charge a reception fee of ¥1395 a month (about US$12) to all their viewers, enforced by Japan's Broadcast Law.

NHK is heavily involved in Japan's ODA efforts in the Third World: most recently, they have been assisting broadcasters in Afghanistan to rebuild that country's TV and radio network.


The following is taken from The Japan FAQ at

Like in the UK, you are required to pay the government if you have a television. However, there are no real fines if you refuse to pay. Sooner or later you will find an old guy from the Japanese government channel NHK knocking at your door and asking if you have a TV. Say no and he'll go away for a while. Say yes and he will order you to pay. Over and over again. Even if you say you never watch NHK because it's made for insomniacs who don't respond to strong drugs, or never even turn on the tube at all, he'll demand your money. And having a satellite dish hanging out on your balcony is a dead giveaway. One way around this is to live in a building where the building has the dish, and you just plug in your "broadcast satellite (BS) tuner" from inside your room.

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