TOKYO — Japan’s communications ministry decided Friday to oblige broadcasters to regularly report on investments made by foreign shareholders, in a bid to strengthen its surveillance following revelations that some broadcasting companies had violated the foreign ownership rule.
Japanese broadcasting law currently requires that foreign shareholders should control less than 20 percent of voting rights in a broadcaster. The limit is aimed at preventing foreign entities from exerting control over a broadcaster’s local programming.
The ministry will not immediately revoke broadcasting licenses even if the foreign investment ratio is found to surpass 20 percent and will give broadcasters time to make amendments so that broadcasting services are not halted due to a minor breach of the law.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will also require broadcasters to report each time there is a change in the ratio of foreign ownership.
Those decisions were made at an experts’ panel meeting on Friday and the ministry plans to submit a bill to revise related legislation to an ordinary Diet session to be convened early next year.
The move came after foreign investment ratios in Fuji Media Holdings, the parent company of Japanese broadcaster Fuji Television Network Inc., and Tohokushinsha Film Corp., were found to have exceeded the 20 percent limit.
Apart from regulations concerning broadcasters, the communications ministry decided to remove restrictions on foreign investment in the aviation radio industry.
Meanwhile, it will “cautiously consider” easing foreign investment regulations in the space industry, keeping in mind security concerns.
The panel had been discussing regulations on foreign investment in the information and communications sector since June, exchanging opinions with the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association as well as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.