For the first time, the Supreme Court on Oct. 25 heard arguments on whether Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) can legally force citizens to pay subscription fees to the public broadcaster.
The top court’s ruling is expected before the end of the year, and all 15 justices will decide the case, given its wide-ranging ramifications.
At the heart of the matter is the lack of a clear provision in the Broadcast Law that obligates households and businesses to pay subscription fees to NHK for its programming and other operations.
NHK has used regulations authorized by the communications minister to collect the fees, which totaled 676.9 billion yen ($5.9 billion) in fiscal 2016.
The broadcaster has argued that it can collect the fees on the basis of a Broadcast Law provision that requires individuals who have installed TV reception equipment in their homes to sign contracts with NHK to receive its programs.