The future of the world’s first 8K broadcast TV platform that was credited with helping ignite interest in a new generation of high resolution televisions now slowly gaining traction in the market, is faced with a channel cutdown decision, according to reports out of Japan.

Japan’s national public broadcaster NHK’s BS8K flagship 8K television station that was scheduled to televise the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer before the outset of COVID-19, is awaiting a decision about its future. The announcement was made as part of NHK’s 3-year plan starting next year, according to U.K.-trade publication Advanced Television.

As as part of that plan, NHK will cut two of its four satellite channels, while consolidating the current BS1, BS Premium and BS4K broadcast satellite channels into one.

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The Japanese publicly-funded broadcaster’s number of TV channels has been targeted by some of the country’s private television broadcasters for unfair competition, and is now faced with trimming some of its satellite-distributed channels.

According to reports, NHK is to cut spending on its channels from $6.8 billion (720 billion Yen) to $5.6 billion (600 billion Yen). NHK is also to consolidate two of its AM national radio stations into one.

NHK’s BS8K 8K flagship channel took a big hit from the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which it was to use for the crown jewel in its content offering to date. It was hoped this would help spark interest around the world in the fledgling 8K TV market.

The event is tentatively being postponed until the summer of 2021, but some public health experts have expressed skepticism that even this target can be met. As COVID-19 continues to spread, with more than 14 million reported cases and more than 600,000 deaths around the world, some believe it unlikely the Tokyo Olympics can or will be held as scheduled to start on July 23, 2021.

Meanwhile, NHK’s 8K satellite channel also produces dozens of high-profile dramas and episodic series in the high-resolution format. Content has included native 8K coverage of the Bolshoi Ballet, “Hoshino Gen LIVE in New York,” “8K Super Live Ikimonogakari” hits performed live from the NHK studios, travel guides to destinations around the world and other fare.

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By Greg Tarr

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