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Japan’s Supreme Court upholds fee ruling in favour of NHK

Even households in Japan with televisions on which channels of public broadcaster NHK cannot be watched must pay viewing fees, the Supreme Court has confirmed.

The court upheld a Tokyo High Court ruling in favour of NHK in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed that she had no obligation to sign a viewing contract with the public broadcaster as its channels were not available on a television at her home, The Japan Times reports.

According to the ruling, the woman bought a television with a device to weaken NHK signals and began using it at her home in October 2018.

In June 2020, Tokyo District Court found that the woman was not obliged to have a contract with NHK, noting that the Broadcast Law limits such obligations to the owners of televisions that can display NHK channels.

Last February, however, the high court overrode the district court’s ruling, pointing out that the plaintiff would be able to watch NHK programmes on her television by taking such measures as using a signal amplifier.