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Japan Ponders Creating Own FCC

Representatives from NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) were in Washington last week on a research trip as the Japanese government ponders creating its own FCC-type regulatory body.

Currently the Internal Affairs Ministry oversees broadcasting and telecom (NHK is the country’s national broadcasting outlet, supported by a tax on TVs).

Atsushi Shibata, a senior media analyst, and a camera crew interviewed some current and former FCC commissioners— including current senior Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell, former Republican FCC Chairman Dick Wiley and former Democratic Chairman Reed Hundt—to assess the “merits and demerits” of having an independent regulatory agency.

“It is interesting that Japan is considering its own version of the FCC,” Wiley told B&C after his meeting. “I encouraged them to consider an independent agency like our own.”

According to a draft of questions posed, the NHK appears to be interested in how the FCC interacts with the judicial system—particularly with respect to a certain ongoing indecency case: “[The] FCC’s rules or orders are not always final and decisive. Broadcasting companies often appeal to courts like CBS’ ‘wardrobe malfunction’ case. Why is that?”