The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship


Document Type

Peer Reviewed Article

Publication Date



The decade of 1980’s was characterized by multiplying challenges to public service broadcasting in many countries. The threat to the financial viability of public broadcasting, which had originated with the stagnation of receiver fee revenue in the face of rapidly escalating production costs, was compounded by the economic-ideological challenges posed by the advent of new media technologies. By the end of the 1980s, public broadcasting systems everywhere appeared to be either crumbling or managing a slow decline.

As a system operating in a uniquely different, and little-studied, policy environment, Japan’s public service broadcasting system, NHK, presents a sharp contrast to this grim picture of decline. In contrast to many of its Western counterparts, such as the BBC, for example, NHK has succeeded in adapting new technologies to its own advantage and has grown tremendously in power and prominence as a broadcasting institution since the early 1980s.

Based on extensive personal interviews conducted with Japanese media scholars, commercial broadcasters, and NHK representatives in the course of a four-month field study in Japan (January 1991-April 1991), as well as library research, this study analyzes the reasons behind this contrast in terms of 1) the elements in the Japanese policy environment which have given NHK an advantage over its counterparts and 2) the management strategies pursued by NHK itself in response to new technologies.


NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Communication Gazette. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published as:

Akhavan-Majid, Roya (1992). "Public service broadcasting and the challenge of new technology: A case study of Japan's NHK." International Communication Gazette, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 21-36. DOI: 10.1177/001654929205000102.

Included in

Television Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.