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Japan broadcasters propose end to AM radio

  • March 27, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 4:11 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 27 (Jiji Press) — Japanese commercial broadcasters on Wednesday proposed ending AM radio broadcasting in the country due to cost issues.

The Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association asked the communications ministry to implement by 2028 a system revision to allow radio broadcasters to focus on FM broadcasting.

The request, made at a meeting of an expert panel at the ministry, reflects the heavy burden of facility renewal and other forms of investment placed on broadcasters at a time when radio stations’ advertising revenues are diminishing in line with falls in the number of radio listeners.

“It’s extremely difficult for us to renew our facilities while continuing AM broadcasting,” said TBS Radio Inc. Chairman Kiyohiko Irie, who participated in the panel meeting as a representative of commercial broadcasters.

He asked for a measure to allow radio broadcasters to choose to convert their AM broadcasting to FM broadcasting or to maintain both types of broadcasting, according to their own business judgments.

Specifically, the broadcasters association proposed a test to halt AM broadcasting in limited areas for long hours, possibly in 2023. It sought the complete termination of AM broadcasting in Japan if there were no problems from the experiment.

Some members of the panel, which is tasked with discussing ways to strengthen commercial broadcasters’ operating foundations, agreed with the idea of ending AM broadcasting, while others were cautious about termination, citing concerns that FM radio waves have difficulty penetrating mountain areas.

While AM radio waves reach farther than FM waves, they are more prone to get blocked by tall buildings and tend to have poor reception in urban areas.

In addition, AM radio base stations are often built in coastal areas and require investments for anti-tsunami measures.

Therefore, 43 of the 47 radio stations making AM broadcasts also have simultaneous FM broadcasts for their AM radio programs.

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