NHK working to catch up BBC and CNN

NHK World is now beaming its signals around the world, and a “new look” kicks in Feb 2. With the re-branding and new programming schedule comes a determination to see NHK ranked alongside heavyweight players like CNN and BBC World.

“We would like to put Japan from the rear seat of the plane to the cockpit, and be more active on the global scene," said Hatsuhisa Takashima, who heads Japan International Broadcasting, Inc., the NHK subsidiary in charge of distributing the channel, speaking to Reuters. "We are not CNN or the BBC," Yoshinori Imai, executive vice-president of NHK, told reporters in Tokyo. "We are trying to be in their ranks, but it will take some time," he added.

NHK says it plans to extend its reach to 150 million households within five years from the Feb 2 re-launch, compared with 276 million households for BBC World News. NHK, which is funded by government subsidy and a levy on television viewers, has allocated an annual 7 billion yen ($79 million) for international broadcasting, from which it will fund 200 news production staff. By comparison, CNN claims a news production staff of 4,000, according to its website.