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Japan to Require Backup Power for Broadcasters

AM radio and terrestrial DTV relays across the country must have backup power systems and sufficient fuel in place by late 2018.

Japan is requiring broadcasters to install reserve power systems at transmission relay sites by October 2018.

The Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, according to a report in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, will require terrestrial digital television and AM radio broadcasters across the county to fit relay stations with reserve power systems as part of the revised broadcasting law, which comes into effect at the end of June.

After March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, nearly half of the 298 terrestrial broadcasters in the affected northeastern region of Japan stopped broadcasting. Where it could be determined why the stations when off the air, 90 percent of the broadcasters had run out of fuel for their generators.

The loss of stations made it difficult for quake survivors to receive information about the subsequent tsunami and aftershocks, as well as the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Japan is in the final stages of its DTV transition with the final shutdown of analog television set for 24 July 2011. The ministry is considering subsidies for local broadcasters if the combined cost of digitization and adding backup power systems causes financial difficulties.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, about 100 of the 11,000 terrestrial broadcast relay stations nationwide lack reserve power systems and sufficient fuel for generators.

As part of its examination of rules to harden broadcasting infrastructure against disasters, the ministry also plans to require broadcasters to move equipment off of floors that may be susceptible to flooding.