TOKYO: Broadcasters in Japan have refused to air advertisements for a new Panasonic smart TV, claiming that viewers could be confused by the way the commercial displays online clips alongside TV programmes.

Observers thought it more likely that the blanket ban by the nation's networks was linked to network concerns about what connected TV would mean for their business model.

Nori Takahiro, chief executive of Sukedachi, a marketing services firm, told Campaign Asia-Pacific, that the move was understandable.

"The device allows viewers to skip out online and viewership might fall enough to threaten the broadcasters," he said.

Despite the ban, Takahiro noted that Japanese consumers already knew about the product via online news and social media. "Panasonic won the exposure without any investment for television commercials, which is impressive," he observed.

The advertisement has been running on YouTube where comments were dismissive of the broadcasters' attitude.

Consumers are smarter than the broadcasters, suggested Takahiro, as it was now easier for them "to find and share information on emerging technologies, which may change their media consumption style for ever".

Consumer attitudes in Japan have also changed in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with greater openness and increased use of smartphones and social media evident.

Takahiro also argued that as the target consumers for the product enjoyed both online content and TV programmes, then "brands should employ the marketing strategy that focuses on online media more than traditional media from the launch of the campaign".

Panasonic's response, reported in Japan Times, was that "IPTV, or smart television, is a new area of service, and we are in talks to create new rules for broadcasting".

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Japan Times; additional content by Warc staff