The Japanese public television network NHK has decided to cease analogue television services via the BS satellite at the end of March 2011, about four months ahead of schedule, sources familiar with the matter said on Saturday, according to news agency Kyodo.
Japan is set to terminate all analogue broadcasting, both in terrestrial and satellite services, and shift completely to the digital format on July 24, 2011. The decision to end analogue broadcasts earlier was prompted by the desire to diffuse confusion amongst viewers.
NHK is also set to consolidate its digital satellite services on the so-called BS (Broadcast Satellite) satellite. The state broadcasters currently offers three channels (BS1, BS2 and BShi) that will change into two new BS1 and BS2 channels, both of which will be in HD.
At present, only BShi broadcasts in the format, while BS1 and BS2 air in SD quality. The new digital satellite services will all be in HD, with the new BS1 channel featuring mostly news programmes and the new BS2 channel entertainment and cultural programmes.
NHK started satellite broadcasting services in analogue-only format in 1989 and added digital services to its satellite operations in 2000.
According to figures published by the Japanese government, 83.8% of Japanese homes had digital terrestrial television sets or set-top boxes as of the end of March.