BBC News

Japan profile - Media

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image captionJapan has pioneered new broadcasting technology

Japan's broadcasting scene is technologically advanced and lively, with public and commercial media in keen competition.

Five TV companies, including public NHK, run national terrestrial networks. Most of NHK's funding comes from licence fees. Many millions of viewers subscribe to satellite and cable pay TV.

News, drama, variety shows and sport - especially baseball - have big audiences. Imported TV shows are not widely shown, but Western influences are apparent in domestic TV fare.  

Newspapers are influential and highly trusted. National dailies sell in their millions, boosted by afternoon and evening editions. Some charge for online access.

Journalists "find it hard to fully play their role as democracy's watchdog because of the influence of tradition and business interests", says Reporters Without Borders (RSF). But in recent years, online media and weekly news magazines have adopted a more aggressive form of political reporting, says Freedom House.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionNational papers sell in their millions

More than 118 million people were online by the end of 2018, comprising 93.5% of the population (InternetWorldStats).

Line, co-developed by Japan and Korea, is by far the leading social and messaging application. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are widely used.

The press

  • Asahi Shimbun - daily, English-language pages
  • NHK - public, operates General TV, Educational TV. NHK World is a global English-language network
  • NHK - public, operates news/speech-based Radio 1, cultural/educational Radio 2, classical music-based FM Radio, external service Radio Japan
  • Inter FM - Tokyo commercial music station
  • J-Wave - Tokyo commercial music station
  • TBS Radio - operated by Tokyo Broadcasting System
  • Kyodo - English-language pages