Japanese Supreme Court confirms obligation to pay NHK viewing fees


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 top court’s First Petty Bench on Thursday upheld the Tokyo High Court’s ruling in favor of NHK in a lawsuit filed by a woman in the capital who claimed that she has no obligation to sign a viewing contract with the public broadcaster as its channels are not available on a television at her home.

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 programs on her television by taking such measures as using a signal amplifier.

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