There are three types of television broadcasting services available in Japan. NHK public broadcasting that operates by TV license fees paid by all who owns a TV. There are also commercial broadcasting supported through sponsors and finally paid broadcasting that is provided only to those who subscribe. NHK is Japan’s public broadcaster and acts much like the BBC in the UK, it has a set role and function that it must fulfill in exchange for the license fee.
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TV license & Getting Started
According to The Broadcast Law of Japan everyone who owns a television set is required to pay receiving fee (TV license).This law applies to all residents in Japan including foreign nationals.
A NHK Broadcast Receiving Contract is signed by each household. You only pay one receiving fee per household regardless of number of TVs in your home. However if you have more than one residence you need to pay a receiving fee for each residence.
You are required to pay the receiving fee from the month you install your TV. You can either make the payments to NHK by having payments slips mailed to you and then pay them at a bank or at the conbini. You can also have the fee paid from your credit card or from your Japanese bank account. You can choose to pay every two months, every six months or on annual basis. If you choose six months or annual payment there are discounts that apply. To sign a contract with NHK you can contact them directly but you can also sign up with the NHK representatives that goes around and controls the TV use.
If you want to have Cable TV you can usually pay the license fee to the Cable TV company instead of making payments directly to NHK.
Paying for the NHK license fee will also include access to the other over-the-air TV networks in Japan, these include: