Cellphone users who have a TV function installed on their devices must pay subscription fees to Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK), the Supreme Court has ruled for the first time.

The top court on March 12 rejected the appeal of a man residing in Saitama Prefecture who wanted confirmation that he was not obligated to pay NHK subscription fees for the One-Seg mobile TV function on his cellphone. The man does not have a TV set at home.

In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that anyone who had a TV set installed at home had to sign a subscription contract with NHK. Cellphone users who have inked NHK contracts for their TV sets do not have to sign a separate contract for the One-Seg function.

The latest case revolved around whether carrying a mobile phone with the One-Seg function was equivalent to "installing" a TV set.

The Saitama District Court ruled in favor of the man, saying that installation does not cover the act of carrying the cellphone.

However, the Tokyo High Court said that installing had a much broader legal meaning than a dictionary definition and ruled that the man had to pay NHK subscription fees.

An NHK official said there have been four cases that have reached the Supreme Court regarding subscription fees and mobile phones.

The Saitama District Court ruling was the only one in which NHK lost.