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April 19, 2010

NHK toughens licence fee demands

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by Rapid TV News

Website: Rapid TV News

Japanese newspapers are reporting that public broadcaster NHK will implement tougher legal procedures that would allow it to forcibly collect subscription fees from certain households and businesses that refuse to pay.

The move would likely come this summer, and would represent the first time the public broadcaster has taken such a step.

As of the end of March, there were 76 cases involving households and offices that could be subject to forcible collection.

NHK will continue talks with these delinquent viewers, while at the same time implementing the procedures in several cases at once, according to sources.

In the wake of a series of internal scandals at NHK, the number of people who refused or deferred payments of their subscription fees peaked at 1.28 million at the end of November 2005.

NHK made its first legal demands regarding such delinquent fees in November 2006 by asking the Tokyo Summary Court to order 33 households in Tokyo to pay.

NHK later expanded its legal demands nationwide, mainly in serious cases in which viewers still refused to pay even after repeated requests.

Legal action had been taken in a total of 841 cases nationwide as of the end of March. Of this number, viewers agreed to pay in 506 cases. In another 162 cases, viewers filed objections.

If a viewer does not make a formal, legal objection within two weeks after receiving an order to pay, a declaration of conditional execution is made.

If the viewer still does not make a formal objection after another two weeks, the order gains the same legal power as a finalized court ruling.

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