Photo/IllutrationNHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward (Keita Mano)

Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) announced it will start simultaneous streaming of its television programs from April 1, which will allow people to watch the programs on their smartphones and other digital devices.

Under the service, called NHK plus, the public broadcaster will stream its programs aired on two of its TV channels, General TV and Educational TV.

The service will be provided for 18 hours daily from 6 a.m. until midnight, but not around the clock despite the broadcaster calling it a “24-hour” service.

The communications ministry initially put NHK's plan on hold due to soaring costs and management problems within the company, but granted authorization Jan. 14 under a code of practice for operations submitted by the broadcaster.

“We want to provide more opportunities for those, including young people, who don’t normally watch TV programs to see a variety of content created as a result of subscription fees,” NHK President Ryoichi Ueda said at a Jan. 15 news conference.

All TV owners are obliged by law to pay subscription fees to NHK.

The broadcaster said it will begin streaming for 17 hours a day from 7 a.m. until midnight on March 1 on a trial basis.

The service will not be provided 24/7 because the ministry asked NHK to curb the costs of its online businesses.

“We gave up streaming programs late at night and early in the morning, as fewer people watch programs then, to cut labor costs,” said a senior NHK official.

Takehiko Kusaba, head of NHK’s digital center, said some programs will probably not be streamed due to rights issues. But he did not elaborate, saying, “Nothing is certain.”

NHK's focus in attracting viewers will be to stream popular programs, such as serial period dramas and morning drama episodes.

Multiple members in a household that pays a monthly subscription fee to NHK will be able to access the service without extra charge on as many as five devices.

They can also use an online service that allows people to watch programs aired on television during the previous week.