Japan Plans to Change its Media Landscape

16 January 2006

A Japanese government report on the nation's media and telecoms industries can be summarised as a resounding 'could do better'.

And Heizo Takenaka, internal affairs and communications minister, is determined to get to the bottom of their lackluster performance.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he says Japan has been left behind in the music and video download markets, now dominated by America's iconic Apple Computer.

Says Takenaka: "Apple's iPod provides a pointer to future possibilities as well as a lesson. Unfortunately, the concept of distributing music over the net did not take off in Japan, so it was Apple rather than Sony that developed the iPod."

Takenaka believes Japan must reform and deregulate media and telecoms if they are to realise their full potential.

He adds: "The media market is about ¥4,000 billion ($35bn; €28bn; £19bn), the telecoms market is ¥16,000bn so together they are ¥20,000bn. Instead of fighting frantically over this pie, there is an opportunity to grow it to ¥40,000bn or ¥100,000bn."

A taskforce will put forward recommendations by the end of June on how best to change the media landscape.

The internet is targeted as an area that must be fully exploited to respond to consumer demand. In some areas of Japan people still have only a few terrestrial TV channels, even though available broadband technology would allow them to receive more.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff