Proposals for realization of a free, fair and transparent information and telecommunications market
--Aiming for structural reform and economic rejuvenation--
|The transmission formats of communications and broadcasting, which have developed independently, are becoming the same because of technology innovations, and sectors that fuse communications and broadcasting are being developed even on the service front. It is necessary to reevaluate the system and its operation so as to not hinder the providing of a large number of services that make use of the fruits of technology innovations.|
Until now, broadcasts have been made using radio waves
to transmit information from one location to the public in
an undetermined number of places (1-to-N), and the public
nature of this has been secured by enacting regulations in
the business aspect, particularly licensing and collective
exclusion, and in the activities aspect, particularly
programming regulations. In contrast to this, in
communications, the privacy of communication and the secrecy
of communication content have been guaranteed in order to
conduct two-way information transmission between specific
However, in recent years, given the rapid progress in technology including digital technology, optical communication technology and satellite communication technology, and the development of the Internet, the transmission formats of communications and broadcasting, which to this point had developed independent of each other, are becoming similar, and in terms of service, areas where the two are mutually used are starting to increase, and the boundaries between the two are becoming increasingly blurred. That is to say, the conventional concepts of communications (1-to-1) and broadcasting (1-to-N) are being destroyed, and it is becoming difficult to distinguish clearly between communications and broadcasting.
If the conventional regulatory system, particularly regulations relating to broadcasting, are applied to the new services that fuse communications and broadcasting, the possibilities that could be brought by the new technology will be lost and there is a fear that it will be difficult for the information communication business to contribute to the creation of a vibrant economy and employment opportunities in the 21st century. The current system and the way that system is employed should be reevaluated so that private businesses can utilize the results of technological innovations and can demonstrate creativity, and so that users can access necessary information in the necessary form.
|In fields where communications and broadcasting have been fused, the creativity of businesses should be enabled and freedom in principle should be encouraged in order to increase convenience for users. At that time, from the standpoint of securing freedom of expression, the government should not intervene in information content, relying instead on the private sector's self-imposed controls and social responsibilities.|
Scarcity of radio waves
The government to this point has operated under the assumption that radio wave resources are limited, and has enacted regulations on broadcasting such as compliance to broadcasting rules, program council institution establishment obligations and mass media collective exclusion rules and the like from the standpoint of working to achieve public good in the radio waves that have been allotted. However, even though these resources are limited, multi-channel broadcasting has been realized with the development of digital technology and data compression technology, and in addition, the capacity of video transmission routes such as optical fibers and satellite communications is increasing rapidly, and overall, the scarcity of radio waves has diminished.
Because broadcasts are "wireless communication transmissions for the purpose of being directly received by the public", the social influence of this must be considered, and programming rules relating to broadcast content, program council institution establishment obligations and mass media collective exclusion rules and the like have been enacted through broadcasting laws. However, in comparison to other media such as newspapers, magazines, movies, books and commercial videos that are not subject to government regulation, it cannot necessarily be demonstrated that broadcasting has a greater societal influence as a whole, but ground wave broadcasting and BS broadcasting offer a diversity of views and news based on the lifestyle of the citizens, and widely contribute to the development of culture. In addition, even NHK, which is the citizen's public broadcasting enterprise, participates in this field. In this sense, the social influence of ground wave broadcasting and BS broadcasting remains strong. On the other hand, it cannot be said that media fusing the fields of communications and broadcasting which have appeared in recent years have an unduly large social influence in comparison to media such as newspapers, magazines, books, movies and commercial videos.
Thus, the scarcity of radio waves and the social
influence of broadcasting that have been the basis of
regulating broadcasting cannot approve the necessity of
enacting harsh regulations on other media such as
newspapers, magazines, publications, movies, commercial
videos, etc. which are not government regulated, with the
exception of ground wave broadcasting and BS broadcasting.
In the merged field of communications and broadcasting where demand is expected to grow in the future, basic liberalization should be undertaken in order to enable the creativity of businesses and enhance the convenience of users. What is important is to prevent harmful influences to society caused by the flow of information, regardless of whether the source is communications, broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, books, movies or commercial videos. This should be acted on with self-imposed laws in the private sector and social responsibility as the root principle, sufficiently taking freedom of expression into consideration.
Reevaluation of broadcast law targets
Conventionally, that which "broadcasters intend to be directly received by the public, and which can be recognized objectively and subjectively to the broadcaster" was classified as broadcasting, and everything else was classified as communications. Because ground wave broadcasting and BS broadcasting have a very strong influence on society as discussed earlier, it is appropriate to maintain the conventional systematic framework for the time being. On the other hand, if other transmitters of information are placed under the regulations of broadcast law, omitting exceptional cases, recognition of consigned broadcast businesses, establishment of program council institutions and various reports will become necessary, and consequently a heavy burden will be placed on businesses, which will hinder dynamic response to user needs. As a result, there are concerns that this will not only nip the creation of new services in the bud but will also slow progress in merging communications and broadcasting and will make it impossible for the citizens of the nation to receive the benefits of technological innovations in a timely manner.
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in December 1997 publicly released "Guidelines relating to classification of communications and broadcasting in new services in between broadcasting and communications that utilize communications satellites". Through this, it has become clear that distribution of, for instance, sales information to sales-ready homes, or distribution of classroom instruction videos that preparatory schools use for students in their own homes are not treated as broadcasting. This can be considered a step forward.
However, in order to conduct information transmissions treated as communications to which the regulations of the Broadcast Act are not applied, the business and service content must be explained in detail to the government on a case-by-case basis, and such cases must be recognized as communications by the determination of the appropriate bureau of the government. It cannot be denied that from the viewpoint of the public, there are unclear aspects in the determination criteria such as the strength of the bonding relationship between the receiver and transmitter as indicated in the guidelines and the degree of belonging of the receiver.
With the technological innovations of recent years, it has become possible to transmit information targeted at only a specific contracted party using communications satellites and the Internet. In order for the public to receive the benefits of this kind of technological innovation and for communication/broadcasting fused services to develop, as a principle it would be best to not treat this as broadcasting in cases where the receiver does not receive the service without entering a contract of his own free will, and in cases where the content is made secret using encoding technology or the like and is indecipherable except to a specified receiver. In particular, for the time being a negative list should be made along with the increase in types of services not treated as broadcasting, such as clarifying in the near future that information transmission targeted at the personal homes of parties meeting specific qualifications as determined by law is not treated as broadcasting. As far as content is concerned, from the standpoint of emphasizing to the utmost the freedom of expression of the public, this should be treated with the social responsibility and self-regulation of the public as the underlying principle, without government intervention, relying on the principle of self-government and the freedom of contracting companies.
Digitalization of ground wave broadcasting and BS broadcasting offers huge benefits to the public, such as effective utilization of frequencies, links with computers, improved image quality and multiple channels, and hence this should be positively undertaken. When this occurs, it is necessary to hold discussions in an open forum in order to obtain a public agreement relating to the division of responsibilities between the private and public sectors and the state of the systematic framework.
Reevaluation of framework relating to data transmission routes
As facilities for communications and broadcasting come to be used in common between the two fields with the development of transmission technology, it will become possible to use the same facilities for communication services and for broadcasting services, but in providing both communication and broadcasting services under the current systematic framework, even with the same facilities it is necessary to acquire a business license, to explain procedures of business operation to the appropriate government bureau and to receive approval, all of which places a tremendous burden on businesses.
The information transmission routes of optical fiber circuit facilities and communication satellites should treated without being classified into communication-use and broadcasting-use in order to utilize these qualitatively and quantitatively as facilities for both communications and broadcasting. In addition, the allotment of frequencies is currently such that the purpose of such must be classified as broadcasting or communications, but consideration should be given to utilizing a frequency allotment method wherein the purpose is not restricted to either broadcasting or communications, so that business to which these are allotted can undertake more efficient utilization of the frequencies and respond dynamically to the needs of users on the basis of the management decisions of the business itself. Furthermore, it is necessary to make it so that communication businesses and broadcasting businesses can mutually participate in and utilize existing transmission routes while taking into consideration fair competition conditions.
State of framework regarding content
On the business side, it is important to create content that meets the needs of information users in order to develop services that merge and mix communications and broadcasting. To this end, it is necessary for content creators independently to make efforts at improving the environment for creation, such as nurturing human resources and preparing facilities. In addition, it is desirable to prepare a copyright treatment structure so as to protect the rights of creators appropriately and easily in order to effectively utilize and promote distribution of existing content.
Furthermore, for outside consignment of content creation, it is important that contracts be entered into which protect the interests and suitable income of receivers through fair trade giving emphasis to anti- trust concepts.
It is necessary to treat unlawful content as the target of criminal law strictly, the same as is the case with other media. On the other hand, although harmful content is not of itself criminal, through the Internet it has become possible to easily transmit data anonymously to a large number of unspecified people, so some sort of measures regarding this are necessary. In this case, there are concerns that introducing new regulations relating to data transmission will compromise the freedom of expression of citizens, so it is necessary to take adequate precautions in that regard. Even in broadcasting, it is difficult for program council institutions mandated by broadcast law to sufficiently review all programming in advance, so fundamentally the reality is that programming standards such as guaranteeing political neutrality and obeying public decency are protected by self-regulation and the good citizenship of program compilers and content creators.
What is important is to make it so that receivers do not receive unnecessary content while at the same time preserving the freedom of expression of citizens. In this sense, for the time being in the field that fuses communications and broadcasting it is necessary on the transmitter's side to promote social responsibility and self-government and to work at commercializing, introducing and promulgating filter software and chips, and on the receiver's side it is necessary to create ways to subjectively select content and ways to reject the reception of unnecessary content.