Action 74. NHK Reform – Create an NHK Tax and Implement a Decisive Reform of NHK’s Business and Governance Practices!

Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK, or the Japan Broadcasting Corporation) is a public broadcaster supported by subscription fees collected from viewers and listeners. Recently, it has been making profits from side businesses and even broadcasts comedy programs and popular Korean dramas. The number of its employees exceeds 10,000 and their average annual income is about 11,850,000 yen, or about three times that of private company employees. If welfare and other benefits are included, total remuneration for an NHK employee can be as high as 17,800,000 yen (as of 2011). NHK should return to its roots as a public broadcaster and implement drastic reforms to ensure its strict commitment to fulfilling its mandated roles.
 
1. [Subscription Fee] Create an NHK Tax of 1,000 Yen Per Household to Eliminate Free-Riders!
As a public broadcaster, NHK should let commercial broadcasters do what they do and strictly limit its own role by drastically narrowing its activities. In addition, the current subscription fee of 2,280 yen (including fees for satellite broadcasts) should be reduced to 1,000 yen. This 1,000 yen should be collected from the Japanese public as an “NHK tax.” Independence from the government authority can be guaranteed from another perspective.
 
2. [Streamlining of Duties] Reduction in Personnel Costs: Return to the Role of Public Broadcasting and Reduce Employee Benefits to the Same Level as Those of National Government Employees
Such programs as sports, comedies, and Korean dramas can be broadcast by commercial broadcasters. When NHK adopts such programming it just squeezes out the private sector. NHK owns seven spectrums, including spectrums for terrestrial, satellite, and radio broadcasting, which can be reduced to about four. With regard to employee benefits, if they are paid for out of revenues collected in the form of the NHK tax, the most persuasive approach is to set them at the same level as those for national government employees. NHK should revert to its original role as a public broadcaster and focus its efforts on reducing the burden on the Japanese people through drastic restructuring, streamlining of activities, abolition of unnecessary channels, and cutting of personnel costs.
 
3. [Free Distribution of Contents] Make “NHK on Demand” Services Available Free of Charge and Distribute All Contents for Free! Focus Efforts on Distributing Contents and Promoting Public Relations Activities Targeting a Global Audience!
NHK offers a lot of extremely high-quality programming, including educational programs, dramas, and documentaries. It currently distributes these contents for a fee via “NHK on Demand” services and also make profits from the secondary use of copyrighted movies and DVDs. These profits are retained within the NHK Group. All contents created by NHK should be released for free and made available for secondary use by private businesses, which will create an environment for generating new business opportunities.
 
The next thing NHK should do is strategically and aggressively expand the distribution of its contents worldwide with a strong determination to play a part in the national strategy to promote international communication.
 
4. [Management Style and Subsidiaries] NHK Should Sell Off All of its Subsidiaries and Absorb their Essential Duties into its Main Arm. The Main Arm Should be Incorporated!
NHK has 13 consolidated subsidiaries, two equity-method affiliates, and seven incorporated foundations. Almost all of the executives of these subsidiaries are former NHK employees. A series of scandals associated with these affiliates have been reported, clearly indicated their “too-cozy” attitude toward management.
 
Most of the activities carried out by these subsidiaries can be performed by private companies. Therefore, NHK should sell off all of its subsidiaries to the private sector and profits of such sales should be used for the benefit of the Japanese people. Duties that cannot be undertaken by the private sector should be absorbed into the main arm of NHK. Within this main arm, however, the Board of Governors does not fulfill a substantial role but merely performs the duties of an advisory committee. Governance of the broadcaster, therefore, does not function well. Considering this poor governance, NHK should be transformed into a corporation that is 100% owned by the government, with the present Board of Governors serving as the board of directors to oversee the management by the executives. Management transparency should be improved and new key performance indicators (KPIs) should be developed to evaluate achievement levels numerically. These efforts will enable NHK to make profits in an appropriate manner and turn those profits over to the national treasury.
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