There are six main networks that broadcast in Tokyo and several cable and satellite companies that offer feeds from Japan and around the world.
Fuji TV, NHK, NTV, TV Asahi, TBS, and TV Tokyo, are the main broadcasters operating within the city, with NHK being the nation’s only public broadcaster. Each station offers a myriad of news programs, day and nighttime TV programs, variety shows (programs unique to Japan that combine a new format with entertainment), movies, sports, and more. The broadcasts are largely in Japanese but some programs are offered in both Japanese and English. There are no fees for any of the stations with exception to NHK, which at least theoretically, is legally allowed under the Broadcasting Law to require fees from any household that has a television. Japanese and foreign viewers alike have regularly dodged NHK’s annual fees of roughly US$140~US$250 for a number of reasons, including allegations of fund misappropriations at the broadcast outlet several years ago.
Cable and Satellite Stations
Most expats choose to subscribe to either a cable or satellite feed for additional English programming, although if your apartment does not face the south, it could be difficult or impossible to capture an adequate satellite signal. In either case, English channels available include Animal Planet, AXN, BBC, Bloomberg, CNNj, Discovery Channel, Fox Japan, History Channel, and a number of sports and movie channels, among others.
Monthly bills for cable or satellite typically run between US$40 and US$60 depending on package chosen and any premium channels selected.
Which cable company you subscribe with will depend on your location within the city. As many of Tokyo’s expats live within the Minato and Shinjuku areas, it’s likely that Minato and Shinjuku Cable will be the right choice for most people. Their Web site (listed below) provides information on areas covered, channel line-up, and other services. Applying for television service can be done online.