Remember watching the extremely-dangerous-but-funny game show, Takeshi’s Castle, on your TV screens? Well, you are not alone. Millions of people across the world have watched the cult television series, first broadcast from 1986 to 1989 by the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), Japan. After its success in Japan, Takeshi’s Castle was dubbed and rebroadcast in many countries, including Indonesia, Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, Finland, Philippines, India and the United States.
The popularity of Japanese TV series and also the unique anime format of animation has made Japan a lucrative content generator. To take advantage of the same, and to forge new content partnerships across Asia, Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings, Inc, the parent company of TBS, organizes the broadcasting conference-cum-market and an award ceremony DigiCon6, every year. In Tokyo, Bollywood Hungama spoke to Izumi Ikawa, Executive Secretary General, TBS DigiCon6, to understand the Japanese broadcasting market and technology and how TBS plans to increase their earnings from their broadcast business from Â¥233.278 billion they made last fiscal.
Tell us about TBS as a broadcaster.
TBS, in a nutshell, is a key station of the Japan News Network. The TBS network is spread across media: we have a digital terrestrial broadcasting station, radio stations, a satellite broadcasting company and a communications satellite.
What kind of an organization is it?
It is a shareholding company and makes money by broadcasting commercials, which is the main source of revenue. The secondary sources of revenue are re-selling of broadcast programmes overseas and production and distribution of films.
What kind of broadcasting technology is used at TBS?
Since 2003, TBS started digital-terrestrial broadcasting. We also currently use analogue broadcasting, which will be phased out by July 2011, and we still broadcast analogue radio. Our satellite broadcasting and communications satellite uses digital technology. TBS has invested a total of Â¥14.5 billion in equipment and facilities last year, and most of these investments were for terrestrial digital broadcasting facilities.
What does TBS in particular, and Japan in general, do to stay at the cutting edge of technology?
The Japanese broadcasters have formed an association, Association of Radio Industries and Business (ARIB), which has an established set of rules whereby any new technology is shared by broadcasters amongst themselves. It works out like this: when a TV broadcaster develops a new technology, it shares it with the association, when makes the new technology into the industry standard. The rest of the industry, under ARIB rules, is obliged to follow this.
Tell us about TBS’s research and development department?
We have a dedicated R&D department which intensively researches on new technologies. But we also encourage our regular technicians on the broadcasting floor come up with new ideas…
In the past R&D was more important as the development of digital technology had just started. Now digital technology has almost developed in the full-fledged form. However, R&D is still important in the integration of broadcasting and communication technologies.
What is the idea behind organizing DigiCon6?
DigiCon6 is organized every year with the aim of discovering and developing creators who are skilled and capable for making content for the era of digital content. In 2006, TBS started opened up to other Asian countries so as to expand the horizons of broadcasting.
Does DigiCon6 provide any revenues to TBS?
We are promoting the event so that we can promote TBS and make new relationships with other Asian countries. At the moment, we are hoping that DigiCon6 will lead to some business revenues. However, we have still not reached that stage.
Why is TBS reaching out to other Asian markets?
Since the Japanese market is shrinking, we want to expand to other Asian countries. We want to make DigiCon6 the trigger for new partnerships. This is made necessary by the fact that the commercial revenues for broadcasters in Japan were Â¥3 trillion when they peaked in 2005. Right now, the number has come down to Â¥1.7 trillion.