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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, May 8, 2001


Fuji TV Network,
not in so many words

Question: The Nippon Golden Network is a premium network which I have subscribed to for $15/month plus taxes through Oceanic Cable for many years now. Their standard broadcast day is from 6 a.m. to noon and 5 p.m. to around midnight daily. The issue for me now is their prime-time programming from Fuji TV Network, which is usually shown from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. and which is repeated the following morning from 10:15 to 11:45. Although the variety programs have not been English subtitled, the serials have been subtitled all these years. Suddenly last month, the prime-time serials have no subtitles due to "copyright restrictions." Now NGN is trying to placate us with "more" subtitled programs from 8:35 to 9:25 p.m. Earlier this year, NGN also imposed a $1 fee on all existing subscribers without asking us. New subscribers have to pay $4.95 for this service. Can you clarify what is meant by "copyright restrictions"? Was the local NGN unable and/or unwilling to pay Fuji TV more money? Will we continue to see an erosion in the quality of programming?

Answer: After almost 20 years of providing subtitled programming in Hawaii, Fuji TV "ran into a copyright situation" that it could not resolve, said NGN President Dennis Ogawa.

It already stopped subtitling programs it offered in New York and California two years ago, he said.

Describing Japan as "the most copyrighted place in the world," Ogawa said "it's very important to have all the proper clearances." Unfortunately, because Fuji TV is "so huge," with a worldwide presence, a deal could not be worked out just for Hawaii, he said. "They understand the situation in Hawaii and tried very hard to maintain subtitling," Ogawa said. But "they just couldn't provide that type of copyright. Oceanic and NGN offered to pay, because we know how important it is (in Hawaii), but it was just too high."

As for the $1 fee, letters were sent to subscribers explaining that the additional charge was to cover expansion to 24-hour programming. "Oceanic is very careful" about such notification, Ogawa said, noting that it is a legal requirement.

Unfortunately, he said, the increase came just about the time the subtitles went. In the past, NGN went off the air before midnight, starting again around 5 a.m. But because everyone expects 24-hour programming for a premium channel, NGN now does so as well, Ogawa said.

Fuji is just one of a number of networks in Japan that offer subtitled programming on NGN. Others include Nippon Television and Tokyo Broadcast. Although more than half of its viewers are "Japan Japanese" who do not need subtitles, "NGN understands the need for subtitles, so we still have a substantial amount of programs subtitled and are adding more," Ogawa said.

Auwe

To a person who lives on 18th Avenue in Kaimuki who walks a large dog around the block without a leash. Who would want to face a dog like that walking without a leash? Also, the dog goes into neighbors' yards to do "his thing." Hopefully, police can see that dog without a leash.

(Call the Hawaiian Humane Society, 946-2187, if you see any violations of the leash law.)





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