Japan is Eyeing 4K Broadcasting Throughout the Country by 2018

by on August 31, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – August 31st, 2014

The government of Japan has declared that it plans to start implementing broadcasting content in Ultra HD 4K and even 8K resolutions on BS channels by 2018 at the latest. The massive investment in broadcast transmission and display technology that this will involve is being proposed and implemented in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that will need plenty of high quality broadcast media.

According to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry of Japan, the government will begin test broadcasting by sometime in 2016, in time for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, and from there will upgrade to full-scale broadcasting across the country as soon as possible in an effort to increase the popularity of 4K media consumption and products in time for the 2020 Games.

The ministry revealed their plans for this massive broadcast media augmentation at a recent meeting of communications, telecom and entertainment industry officials and experts held in Tokyo.

The trail runs of 4K Ultra HD broadcasting on BS channels in Japan will be advanced forward heavily from the original timeline of trial broadcasts starting in 2020 which had been first planned by the same government and media technology officials. The planned full official start of these 4K broadcasts is expected for 2018, in time for the beginning of the World Cup that will be held in Russia.

These planned trials and eventual full broadcasting capacity upgrades are being held amidst some remarkably heavy international competition amongst companies and governments in many countries who also want to see their digital video media channels move over to 4K capacity within the next few years.

 However, in the case of Japan, the stakes for implementing 4K are particularly high given that some of the pioneering companies with the most invested in developing the 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution standard are also Japanese. Most notable among these enterprises is Sony, which currently holds the largest market share of all 4K TV and display sales in the world.

Sony 4K Products at IFA 2014

Sony 4K Products at IFA 2014

The Communications Ministry has shown its seriousness by including 1.7 billion yen in its budget request for the fiscal year of 2015, which starts next April. The funding is for covering initial technological development in preparation of trial broadcasts. Most importantly, the ministry first plans on investing in new image transmission technology that can more efficiently send the massive data loads of 4K across domestic broadcast media.

The initial tests planned in 2015 and 2016 will consist of alternate broadcasts of 4K and 8K video feeds at different times on different days to several different TV channels.

While many people will be able to enjoy the 4K broadcasts given the wide availability of 4K TVs from different brands throughout the worldwide consumer market, there are currently no 8K TVs on sale anywhere on any consumer market, though this might possibly change by 2016.

The first broadcasts of 4K video programming have actually already been launched in Japan: In June of this year, satellite TV channels belonging to Sky Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc. of Japan were host to several Ultra HD 4K broadcasts of different video content.

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